For the first time in over a month, I went for a run. Well, technically a walk-run. It’s embarrassing that I’m starting my training plan all over again, but the upside is that I know I’m capable of doing it. When I started the journey of running back in November 2014, I could barely make it one lap around the track. In just three months or so, I was running for forty minutes straight. There’s no doubt in my mind that I can do it over again. Besides, I haven’t regressed entirely. And if I have, at least my mind is telling me otherwise. I’ve got this.
The program is fourteen weeks long. Back in November 2014, I started a nine week 5K program. This time I’m trying to be a little more ambitious. The first nine weeks are the same, but after that, it’s unknown territory to me. Supposedly I’ll be able to run a 10K by the end of it. It sounds like a lot, but I’m a true believer. If a couch-adoring bookworm like me could be transformed into a running enthusiast, anything’s possible.
Hopefully, signing up for a race will motivate me to train. Just thinking of it now – gearing up for a morning race, having a number pinned on me, seeing my hard work come to fruition – is motivating me. After running a race, I’ll be a living, breathing, Real Runner. Nobody will be able to stop me.
I’ve always heard that it’s best to take things one step at a time, but that advice only holds me back in this case. Thinking about lacing up for my next run and walking doesn’t get me pumped. What does the trick for me is imagining, leaping into the future, foreseeing myself as a marathon participant, and chasing that dream like it’s a powdered sugar doughnut hanging from the heavens.
And no matter how much or how little of a Real Runner I am, you can bet that I won’t give up powdered sugar doughnuts for the world.
Since September, this blog has really made a comeback. I’ve spent a lot of time brainstorming good content and then expressing it in a presentable manner – every day. My audience has grown exponentially, my stats have gone through the roof; in the conventional sense of the word, my blog is successful. But sometimes I wonder if I’ve completely missed the point of what it means to blog in the first place.
This used to be the place where I let my rawest thoughts fly away. It was revealing, emotionally naked. What about now? My audience has become so large and varied that I feel like I have to write something for everyone. My writer fans, my Christian fans, my idealist fans, my friends and family. Then I have to think about bringing in new readers. My writing has become censored. If I write one thing, I might alienate part of my fan base, but I’ll enlighten another. All I wanted was for my writing to be heard. I wanted the world to know who I am and what I can do. But I’m afraid I’ve lost myself in the process.
My blog can be likened to a home. It used to be my place to stretch out, vent, and walk around in my emotional pajamas. One day, I decided that my venting was somewhat coherent, and that I wanted to go places. So I started decorating this home and inviting people in. My guests loved the decor, so they invited others. As I continued decorating, the crowd grew. Now my safe little home has become a party. I can’t just take my shoes off, lay on the couch, and watch TV. There are too many guests to entertain and too much going on. The figurative hostess can’t just go upstairs and take a nap while her guests mill around in the living room, nor can she kick everyone out. Because I like being heard and having my writing seen. I wanted to be a writer. This is the life I’ve chosen.
But I’m tired. I just want to write about how my day went, or just spit something out without trying to go back and make it eloquent. I want to kick everyone out and say whatever I feel like saying, not worrying about whether I’ve used too much anaphora. But that’s not what it means to be a writer, is it? When hundreds upon hundreds of people read your blog each month, you can’t get lazy with your writing. It can’t be your cozy little cave anymore. It’s a ballroom that requires you to polish it with poise and eloquence.
I’m tired of writing content. I just want to write about me.
Over the course of my life, I’ve usually tended towards having fairly low self-esteem. However, I do have an idealized view of myself that I try to live up to. Even back in elementary school, at the beginning of each school year, I’d imagine this ideal “perfect, good” self. Getting stellar grades, healing the hurting, never being reprimanded for anything at any time. I’d never live up to it, though, because the standards were just too high. My goals were unattainable. Then I’d become sort of apathetic and let it all go. Repeat every year. (One year I tried to maintain this perfect self through berating myself for every mistake, but my self-esteem really took a hit and it just triggered preexisting depression.)
I still have a “perfect, good” self in my mind, but I guess I’ve just accepted that I can’t attain all of it. I’d love to get straight A’s, learn to drive, write a novel, give all my money to charity, read fifty books in a month, and be an utterly selfless person. But the reality is that I procrastinate, my grades are sub-par, I’ve only driven a car five times, I don’t have the drive to finish a novel, I’m stingy with my savings, I spend too much time on the internet to read all those books, and I fear that I’m appallingly self-seeking. I’ll never be quite good enough for myself. If I ever achieved all that I wanted, there would be something else about myself that wasn’t perfect enough. I just have to learn that I can’t be all that.
My relationship with God, age 13.
“I want to hear Gods voice. I want him so bad…but it seems like I’m not good enough. Like other Christians are better…I’ve been a Christian for 10 years… I still feel like a baby. 10 years. Still feeling like a baby Christian.
I want confidence, and wisdom, and an awesome relationship with God. That’s my wishes if I could get a genie. Unfortunately genies don’t exist.
I want those 3 wishes. Not wealth, or power…that isn’t as important.
I’m tired of being afraid. Tired of feeling empty inside. Tired of being tired! I want something to hold on to. I’m not talking about literally.
The feeling of tears…it’s all too familiar. Chaos. Pain. Feeling helpless in a black hole. My mind and my heart never walk hand in hand. No one even realizes this.
I wish I could feel God holding my hand, my heart, carrying me. I feel all alone right now. I don’t feel secure. I feel like I’m falling through quicksand.
What am I saying. I’m such a idiot.”
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
You can’t control what other people feel. Life is not an audition for other people’s approval. The sun won’t wait for you to finish all your work. It will rise early tomorrow, and so will you. You can’t become someone else, no matter how much you envy them. That paper is due next week – tough luck. You didn’t make the team, and that’s okay. Loosen your grip. Release some control. You will feel freer.
The courage to change the things I can.
Don’t let yourself be a doormat. You can stand up and fight for what you believe in. You never have to be used for someone else’s gain. Free yourself from dangerous situations if you can. Just because you’re a kind and gentle person doesn’t mean you have to stay quiet when something goes wrong. Be a lover, but don’t be afraid to be a fighter as well.
The wisdom to know the difference.
Knowing takes time. It’s fluid, situational, and most often confusing. This is where you need God the most. The reality you see is through two eyes alone, but God is everywhere; he sees all. Trust him to be the lens of clarity in your blurry perspective. Only then can you begin to see the outlines of your once-fuzzy dilemmas.
Dear all the math and science teachers I’ve ever had,
I know I don’t understand imaginary numbers. I’m sorry I just can’t get the hang of Lewis dot structures. From what you see of me in class, you must think I’m not the brightest student. After all, everybody else seems to be understanding your material. They’re all light years ahead of me.
But I want you to think about the girl behind the grade book. I like to write poetry and short stories. When I’m sad, I make up my own piano songs to make me feel better. I’ve been keeping a diary every day for over three years. The meaning of existence is a daunting topic, but I like to think about it anyway. I love reading. I’m a good prank-caller. I do everything I can to be an inspiring person. My favorite bands are Coldplay and Nirvana. I’m fascinated by the 2016 election. I want you to know that there’s so much more to me than the incorrect scrawl on the tests I turn in.
I’m not stupid.
If you vomit at school, you’re sent home. The same goes for fevers, significant injuries, and other illnesses. You’re no longer fit to be in a structured learning environment. Rightfully, you return home to rest. There is little leniency for emotional or mental crises, however. If you happen to have a major panic attack, you’re expected to just “pull yourself together” and get on back to class. If you feel like you genuinely don’t have the energy to get through the day without crying, you have to simply toughen up and roll with it.
I will never understand this. Since when are physical ailments less important than mental? Both can be debilitating. Humans are complex. Pain cannot be compartmentalized. You can hurt in places other than your body. So, you know what? If you feel like your life is crumbling apart and you really feel horrible – and I don’t mean a little blue, I mean genuinely horrible – then go home. Just go home. Watch some Netflix, cry, eat some good food, and take it easy. You need it.
I was milling about the internet earlier today, taking dumb Buzzfeed-like personality quizzes. One of the questions asked me to pick between two options. One of the options was having every single person in the world think I’m fantastic as soon as they meet me, and they continue to adore me as they get to know me. Basically, nobody could ever hate me. I’d be worshiped.
Immediately I was repulsed, for a variety of reasons. First, I crave people’s love, not their admiration. I don’t really care if people think I’m a shining star. Of course, it’s pleasant to be admired, but it fills no need in my soul. Feeling like people love me, care about me, want me around, and truly appreciate me for who I am is what I want. If I’m not fantastic at anything, so be it.
Second, there’s nothing genuine about every single person liking, or even loving me. I would hate a world where everyone was programmed to appreciate me. How would I know who truly loved me on their own accord? I would rather be alone than bombarded by constant, fake admiration. I’m not perfect, and I don’t desire to be treated as such; so I’m relieved to know that there are things that people don’t like about me. It’s assurance that I’m living in reality – that I’m real.
Lastly, the truth is that I’m not sure I even want everyone to deeply love me. No, I don’t want to be hated; that would be taking it too far. But there are only a certain amount of people in this world whom I want to love me, and they do. So I’m happy. If you like me, great. If you don’t, so be it. You’re only affirming that I don’t live in a candy-sweet reality where I can do no wrong.
It terrifies me that nothing ever stays the same. Whether I like it or not, the things I love will slip from my fingers. All I want is to live in the same dream forever and ever. But I can’t. I’ll never leave this life, no, but it will leave me.
The day will come when I’ll be out on my own in a completely new place. I’ll have to pay my own bills and balance my own checkbook. I won’t know a soul around me. Weekends won’t be the same. Afternoons won’t be the same. I’ll drift away from everything and everyone I loved. What terrifies me the most is that, after a while, I won’t even care. How many times, when I was young, did I wish upon a star for my days to stay in that pleasant state for eternity? And how many times was my wish refused? I cannot count. Yet, now, I don’t care. I don’t care about what I used to wish for.
This is why I cling. If I cling, this reality won’t abandon me. Because the moment it drifts away – even a little bit – is the moment that I’ll start the process of ceasing to care. So here I am, sixteen, clutching these days like an elderly person would grip the hand of their loved one before a gentle death. But these days are flowers. They bloom for a time, wilt, and then crumble between my fingers. And they won’t stay no matter how tight I hold them.