I have this irrational fear of opening up about my dreams, because failure is so much scarier than success. I don’t want the world to know I failed! I would rather just tell the grand story of my success afterwards, and “erase” all of the failures I endured to get there. Isn’t that why the Facebook highlight reel exists?
My journey with failure really began with running. The first time I ever really struggled, the first time I ever really failed, was in running. 2 years ago I had one of two sesamoids removed and my running journey has never really been the same since (but thats a story for a whole separate blog post). Moral to the story: I fell into a very deep hole two years ago, and I have been clawing my way back out since. I lost my passion in life for so long and I am happy to say I now see every healthy day of running as a gift.
So, why am I scared of failure? If I had to admit the number of times I stopped, gave up, cried or quit during this winding road back to running, I would be ashamed at the relatively low level of perseverance I seem to have. I hid so much pain and defeat behind that black boot for 13 months, and what I learned is that hiding my failure is even harder than admitting defeat.
To this day, I am so scared of re-injuring my right foot. What happens if I break the only functioning sesamoid left in my foot? What happens if I break a sesamoid in the other foot? What about the change in my biomechanics? My perineal tendon, achilles and knee injuries ever since have proven a lot has changed and that I am very, very weak. It is completely rational to be scared of injury. But I am scared of career-ending injury. I am scared to lose my greatest joy and biggest passion. How do I balance that fear with the desire to achieve even more?
I LOVE to run. Nothing beats a good 10 miler with a little bit of sunshine and a few mountains in the background. But, what happens if I take running for granted? What if I become selfish and stop seeing running as this beautiful gift, and instead I become wrapped up in a training regimen? As I rack up miles on my shoes in pursuit of my dreams, what if I forget to take into account the possibility of losing this love of mine forever? What if achieving my dreams costs me the joy of running every day for the rest of my life? What if my dreams cost me being able to chase my kids later in life or being able to walk without pain when I am 35? I have so many fears… Fear that my love of running will become selfish and fear that this selfishness will lead to losing my greatest love in life.
Today, my dreams are winning. Today, as in the past few months, every spare moment, awake and asleep, is spent dreaming about the Boston Marathon. #1 on my bucket list is to run the Boston Marathon my senior year in college. That would mean I need to qualify in the next 10 months in order to run Boston in 2016. I have to run a sub 3:35 marathon within the next 10 months, just 2 years shy of having a very important, little bone cut out of my right foot. This is the dream that scares me more than any other. And, being myself, that makes it #1 on the bucket list. Even further, now that its on there, it will never come off the list until I have either succeeded or failed (but keep in mind, #2 on the bucket list reads “if I fail at #1 due to time frame, I will qualify for Boston before I die… no time constraint needed).
On long, tough runs in the midwest winter, I think about the marathon I am training for, and I imagine the moment when I come across the finish line, eyes on a clock that reads 3:29:59, and I burst into tears: tears of exhaustion and the most rewarding happiness in the world, tears of such great joy that even after all the times I have been told no, I persevered to say yes, tears to say “f*** you” to all those doctors who told me I would never run without pain again, and tears to say an overwhelming thank you to the God in whom I place all faith, trust and hope. That moment of pure elation in achieving a lifelong dream pushes me through so many dark days. It makes me stronger. It makes me appreciate this wonderful gift I’ve been given. It makes me want to chase all my dreams and never fail.
But, failure is inevitable.
Funny thing about failure is that no matter how many times I fail, all roads lead to Boston.