But then this past weekend happened: I ran in a long-distance relay and was reminded that actually, I'm pretty fucking awesome, and I deserve to feel that way every single day. We all do.
|Ready to conquer 18 miles|
A bit of background: As many of you know, I'm passionate about running. But I'm not a natural runner. I didn't participate in track or cross country in grade school; I was the kid who'd look for every excuse to miss the one-mile run in gym class each semester. I began a jogging regimen only because it's something my partner was into when I first met him 20 years ago. On our first outing together, I huffed and puffed down one city block before I called it a day. A year later I finished a marathon. I've been a runner ever since.
I've improved my times over the years but never beyond middle of the pack. At my Tuesday night track club, I amble along in the drafts created by Olympic-level speedsters as they fly by at less than five minutes a mile, all taut muscle and perfect form. The thing is, though, I really don't care about the disparity in our performances. I'm happy for their talent. I'm happy for me, too. I love how running makes me feel. I see my limitations, I fully accept them, and I do my best with what I've got.
And what I've got is perfectly fine, something I was reminded of as I was running 18 miles through the desert last Saturday. I'd tapered well and felt fresh as I headed to the aid station at the start of my leg. During the run, my nutrition/hydration plan was on point. The trail was rocky, but I didn't fall once. I implemented my crush-the-downhills-speedwalk-the-uphills strategy. And by the time I reached my end point, I was ahead of schedule. Fast? No. But I delivered for my team.
It helped to be amongst others in the running community, where every person is treated as an absolute hero regardless of their gender, race, age, weight, pace, whatever. You run past someone, you tell them how outstanding they are, and they reciprocate. You get to an aid station, they tell you how amazing you are, and you thank them profusely for taking time out of their day to help host the event.
The ethos in the running community is just... inspiring. It's about unconditional acceptance and appreciation. It's about valuing people simply for being present, for participating, for existing. Experiencing it again at Saturday's race was such a contrast to the messages I've been receiving in my work over the past few years and particularly over the past two months.
Basking in that spirit made me realize that I deserve better in my job. I cannot continue to work for a manager who yells at me and a company with policies that leave me feeling like a pile of shit at the end of each day. Work shouldn't make us feel that way. It's emotionally draining. It's bad for our health.
Which is why I'm determined to pivot, make a career shift, and find a way out of this employment rut. It's going to happen, but I know I need to stick it out for at least a few more months at my current job so that we can save some money and make a clear plan.
In the meantime, I don't want to feel powerless. I don't want to keep crying at my desk every morning. I don't want to feel like a worthless pile of slime on my office floor. For this job to be sustainable until next summer, I need to find a way to regain my confidence, or at least some of it. And I can't wait for my company or my boss to help me out in that respect, because that's never going to happen.
So I've decided to take on a little life experiment. I'm calling it my I'm A Fucking Badass Experiment, and here's how it's going to work: every week, I'm going to try out a strategy that I hope will help me feel better and more confident about myself. Whatever that strategy is, I'll implement it each and every day during that given week. At the end of the week, I'll report back: was it effective? Did it flop? Would I recommend it to others? (On the docket for Week 1: Power Posing!)
Thanks to the messages we receive from the world around us, oftentimes especially from our work, we get brainwashed into thinking that we deserve less than we do. But as one of my running heroes, Sally McRae, has said, we don't need a why to matter. We matter because we exist. We should feel confident simply because we are here, doing the best we can every single day. And that's what I want for myself.
(Well, that and a better job.)