Sunday, April 26, 2009

Euphoria Is The Thirteenth Mile

Those of you who are familiar with me from any other blog/social networking site I participate on have probably already heard me use this line, so I apologize for the repetition, but I'm going to talk about it again.

My choir professor has the tendency to go off on exceedingly random tangents during our class. Bird, car accidents, concerts, literally, anything is fair game. Earlier this week, he went off on a tangent about running, and I kind of figured, okay, here he goes again, we'll get back to singing in 5 minutes.

This happened to be an unusually exceptional tangent though. I know I won't do it justice trying to repeat it here, but it was brilliant. He started off by telling us about how so many people had been coming to him lately, trying very hard to get ahead in their classes, or tackle their workload, or accomplish something important, but who were getting exceedingly frustrated, and starting to give up because they weren't achieving what they wanted to achieve. He then explained to us that when you run, after a certain distance, you eventually reach this state of euphoria and calm where you just feel weightless, like you're floating. This occurs at about the thirteenth mile. Most people, however, who are striving for that place and that feeling, stop at the ninth mile. He pointed out how the distance between the ninth mile and the thirteenth mile isn't all that large, and that you just have to keep pushing yourself, because you're closer than you think.

Euphoria is the thirteenth mile.

And I look back, and I think about all the times I thought I couldn't do something. I think about all the semesters at school when the assignments started to pile up over my head and I thought I'd never be able to make it out without failing everything. I think of the weeks at work when I first started and was scheduled for so many shifts that I thought there was no way I'd make it through without dying. I think of the literal times when I've been running or exercising, and feeling like there was no way I could possibly run another mile, or do another push up, or another sit up.

But I was always wrong. I always pulled through, and I always did it.

The moral of the story? I think we're all a lot stronger than we think we are, and sometimes, I think we're all a lot closer to that thirteenth mile than we think we are. And come on, after coming so far, do you really want to give up when you may be so close to getting what you're working for? Why chance it? Why not just keep pushing for that extra mile? If you push past mile nine, my professor said, mile ten starts to feel easier. You start to think, If I can do this, what can't I do? So I say, keep going.

Can you think of a time that you thought you couldn't do something? Did you stop trying or did you work harder? If you worked harder, did you eventually get what you were aiming for?


Monday, April 20, 2009

I Don't Mean To Judge...

It has been suggested that perhaps my irrational fear of being judged by everyone actually comes from the fact that I am a very judgmental person myself. It's not something that I do on purpose, but I can't help it.

Sometimes it's little things. Like, whenever I see a really pretty girl with a cigarette in her hand, I grow sad at watching her wasting her beauty on dirty teeth and fingers, and bad smelling hair. Or when I see a beautiful face covered in tattoos or piercing, I wonder why they would want to put holes in such a lovely face. Is it unfair of me to judge them as less attractive, or odd because when I look at them I see them ruining their beauty? From their point of view, maybe they're enhancing it.

I do the same thing in so many other scenarios. When I'm in the elevator at school, I play a game taught to me by another student at my school. When he got onto a crowded elevator, he would look around at the other people in the elevator, and try to guess what floor they were going to. You see, the floors in a specific building are divided by department - fourth floor is Music, fifth floor is Theatre and Film, sixth floor is Psychology, seventh floor is Anthropology... I don't remember all the others off the top of my head, ninth floor is Physics, tenth is Geography, and the fifteenth floor is Art. You get the point. The whole idea of the game is to look at someone, and try to guess their major. This seemed innocent enough, but when the other student first explained it, he said "When I see a group of girls getting into the elevator, I always know they're going to the sixth floor". I feel guilty for making such assumptions.

When I'm in the cafeteria, or at the grocery store, I always look at what other people are buying, and what they're eating. I wonder why the mother with the overweight child tagging along is buying so much junk food. I smile inwardly at the man in front of me in the checkout line places his vegetarian meat substitutes on the conveyor belt. I groan to myself as I watch the girl with the supermodel body carry a tray with two slices of pizza and a soda, secretly hating that she can eat it and not gain a pound.

I don't know these people, but I find myself assigning them personality traits for no apparent reason. Is it human nature, or am I just a terrible person?

I tell myself that when I hurry past the hooded male figure on my way home late at night that I would rush warily by them regardless of race, and that it's only fair that I should be cautious. I tell myself that I am justified in preferring to sit next to women on the bus, if I have a choice. But at the root of it all, I am woefully influenced by my groundless judgements.

Do you think you are a judgmental person? How do your judgements impact your day to day life? Do you think that they necessarily have a negative impact? Are some judgements natural?


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The More I Run, The Less It Hurts

I've started jogging lately. I don't go every day or anything, more like every other day, or every third day, but I do try. It's part of a new diet and exercise kick I've got going on right now. I don't know. But something I've noticed is that the more I run, the less sore I am afterwards, or when I wake up the next morning. The more I do it, the easier it becomes.

The more I run, the less it hurts.

As I was pondering this, I started to wish it applied to more aspects of life. Why doesn't running away from problems make them hurt less? Why doesn't running away from people make them have less power over you? In a most literal, physical sense, I can run to escape the pain, because eventually, I can outrun the pain. If I keep running, I get stronger. If I keep running, I grow. The more I run, the more pain I can take.

I drove down to my shore house a few days ago running away. I wanted to run away from my problems, from the people who were hurting me, from the difficulties I was facing. The further I ran, though, the more they loomed in my mind. The further I ran, the more the pain seeped into my joints and threatened to drag me down.

Maybe it's because running away from my problems is not the answer. Maybe it's my own way of realizing that I need to face my problems and responsibilities.

Maybe it's because I can't commit to running away from the person who is hurting me. Maybe it's because I run from him in short bursts, stopping to glance back over my shoulder, checking to see if he's following me, hoping against all hopes that he is, and breaking down on the concrete in front of me when I turn again and no one is there. Maybe it's because, by the time I've picked myself up and started running again, I'm right back where I began, and I'm running in circles.

So since metaphorical running has failed me, and literal moving on has failed me, I'll continue to pound my feet against the pavement in the park as often I can, to feel the only pain I know I can get rid of on my own.


Monday, April 6, 2009

The Good From The Bad; Or, Why I Try Not To Regret Anything

Before you do something, it's easy to say that you won't regret it. It's also impossible to promise that you won't.

I refer to my "situation" of the past few months on my blog with a good deal of vagueness. Part of the reason for that is because I can't even really figure it out myself, and part of it is because I really just don't want to throw it out there for the world to see. I'm not far enough out of the situation yet. But for anyone putting the pieces together at home, the basic gist of it is that there was a guy, and he hurt me bad and helped me grow.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while already know that I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for over 10 years. In the fall, I had one of the most severe anxiety attacks of my life. It was horrific, and lasted for hours. That was one of the biggest turning points I can pinpoint in my life. At that moment, I decided that I was going to get control of my anxiety instead of letting it control me. I went out and bought a self-help book, started doing yoga, and changed up my diet a bit to eliminate certain things that may make anxiety worse. I started drinking tea like it was going out of style. (And me drinking more tea than I did before was hard - I am a tea fanatic!). It was like that attack was me hitting bottom, and you have to hit bottom before you can stop falling, and pick yourself up.

I have had ridiculous success with handling my anxiety, and I am proud to say that, though I have not been free of anxiety altogether, I have not had another crippling attack since that night all those months ago. I've abolished my ridiculous 8-Hour-Rule, a tactic I've employed since age 12. The first day of school this semester was the first time since I was 9 years old that I did not spend an hour in bed convulsing before I could get myself up and out to school. Six months ago, this many months without a truly crippling panic attack would have seemed impossible. And I feel like I truly had to hit that point where I realized how many wonderful things I was missing out on by being so afraid before I could turn things around. With my successful control of my anxiety came many wonderful discoveries in my guy situation, many things I would never have been able to handle before.

But nothing lasts forever. I knew this of course, from the very beginning, but even though it's not like it came as any huge shock, that didn't make it any less sucky, or painful. When things started to take what I saw as a downhill turn, I started to become insecure about myself. It was because I wasn't pretty enough, I told myself. It was because I wasn't smart enough, or skinny enough. It's because I'm too young, or too inexperienced, the little voice in the back of my head told me. And my friends, of course, being the good friends that they are, threw this poor guy under the bus time and time again say that of COURSE it wasn't me, it was him. And each and every time, I defended him. Because I liked him. A lot. So instead of admitting that maybe it's not my fault, I wanted to better myself. So I started dieting, and exercising more, and taking better care of myself. But if I can keep up those good habits now and keep myself healthy, does it matter what sparked it in the first place? It's a good thing for me, plain and simple.

So I titled this entry "The Good From The Bad", but at the heart of it, was the bad ever even really bad? Okay, so I spent a good many nights hugging my pillow in tears, I spent some time being angry at myself, and bitter, and I spent some days focusing on things that maybe it would have been better to just let go, but can I honestly deny that I'm a much better person for it? J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors, and I have a quote of his written on the little whiteboard on my refrigerator (for anyone who is unfamiliar with my refrigerator, it is the most positive, inspirational, awesome refrigerator you will ever see).
"You can only come to morning through the shadows." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Yes, I cried, I ached, I screamed into my pillow in frustration, but it helped me turn my life around. For better or for worse, the last year has made me really grab life by the horns, and take control. I have gotten my anxiety under control to an extent that I wouldn't have thought was possible six months ago. I've completely revamped my diet, and I've started exercising even more, and taking vitamins. I have overcome so many irrational fears that plagued me in the past, and I feel like a completely different person. I feel like if I could handle that situation, really, what CAN'T I handle? I'm braver, stronger, and sure, I've still got PLENTY of issues to work on, but who doesn't? I feel like at least I'm getting somewhere - it's a step in the right direction.

Have you ever been through something awful that really helped you grow? Have you ever experienced something painful that you later realized helped you to become a better person?


Saturday, April 4, 2009

"I'm Selling My Ferrari"

I'm selling my Ferrari.

It was a tough decision, but I have to do it. It's just not good for me anymore. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like it. I love it, and I'm going to miss it like hell. But the joyriding is coming to an end. It was a rash, impulsive, and reckless decision that turned out to be too much fun to give up. Besides, it made me feel good. Scratch that. It made me feel amazing. I mean, come on. When you're driving something like that, it's impossible not to feel confident and sexy, right? Like, if you can get a car like that, you just feel better about yourself all the time. I learned that this feeling is fleeting but damn did it feel great for a while.

Walking away from it is going to be hard though. I loved that car - well, as much as I could anyway. It is just a car, after all. I knew it wasn't going to be around forever, so it's not like I let myself get unbearably attached to it, but I'll be honest, I was pretty darn attached. You invest that much time and energy into something, and it's hard not to. And I did invest time and energy into it - a LOT of time and energy. Because even when I wasn't driving it, I was thinking about it. You have to admit, it's pretty distracting. In the BEST way, but still, distracting.

The funny thing is, I almost got rid of this thing right off the bat. When I first got the Ferrari, it scared the crap out of me. Ironic, right, to have such a beautiful piece of machinery in front of you, and to be scared of it. I was scared of it though, I was scared of driving it - scared of TOUCHING it - because, let's face it, I'm new at this, and not a very good driver. What if I messed it up? What if it crashed? Because obviously, if someone's gonna fuck something like that up, it's going to be me. That's just the way my life tends to work out.

You don't start out with a Ferrari. It's just not a good idea. Because first off, there's really nowhere to go but down. When you start off with something that awesome, where the hell do you go from there? Exactly. You don't. So now I've gotta swallow my pride, take my ego down a few pegs, and settle for a nice little Honda, or a cute Toyota, and know that it's about as good as I can do. And trust me, when you're cruising around in a Ferrari feeling like the world is yours, getting behind the wheel of a Prius is somehow, not as gratifying. Second, totaling a Ferrari sucks a lot worse than totaling your dad's pick-up truck or your mom's station wagon. You didn't just destroy something that was gonna kick the bucket in the near future anyway - you wrecked something truly awesome. And finally, you don't know how to appreciate these things when you are starting out. Why waste it when you're not even going to appreciate it the way you should? You might as well scarf down a whole plate of gourmet food in one bite and chug your wine - it's the same thing.

But the fact that I'm selling it is important. I'm not just giving it away, or throwing it out, I'm getting something out of this transaction. The Ferrari, of course, remains in perfect condition. Even me, with my clumsy ways did not manage to total it. It's beautiful as ever. And doesn't that make it that much harder to part with? I'm the one that got totaled. I got totaled by sitting behind the wheel of that car in utter fear of messing it up. What kind of way is that to drive a car? It's toxic. So I have to admit that I can't handle the situation as it stands. But I won't walk away empty handed. I've gotten plenty of compensation for my troubles. I learned to drive, I got over my fears of actually taking it out of the driveway, and, at the end of the day, I had a Ferrari, even if only for a little while.

Yea, I'd like a Ferrari. Everybody wants a Ferrari, or something like it. But let's face it - we can't all have a Ferrari. Some of us have to settle for the Honda Accord, and the Toyota Prius. Some of us have to cruise around town in a ratty old pick up truck and a broken down station wagon. But you know, people love those cars just the same, and they manage to feel just as great driving them, even if the rest of us laugh or roll our eyes because to us they hardly look pretty, or useful, or worthwhile. But people love those cars anyway. And they can feel just as amazing when they drive them because they don't need that car to legitimate them - they can do that just fine on their own.