Just as I once felt compelled to create a blog, I now feel compelled to write this brutally honest blog post. I hope that by telling these stories I can help other people know that it is okay to ask for help or make a change when you need it.
Sometimes people are faced with challenges or struggles that they cannot handle. In today’s world I think people are afraid to ask for help when they are facing a challenge or struggling so they try to keep things together. I know I don’t like to ask for help and I rarely do. It seems like asking for help has become taboo and instead of reaching out when we need to most of us keep powering forward until disaster strikes and we break down.
Monday night I was driving my beloved car and I heard a loud noise. I assumed I just ran over some kind of plastic or some kind of bottle and it hit the side of my car. I kept driving because I needed to go grocery shopping. As I kept driving my car started making a thumping noise, then a grinding noise, and then it became difficult to steer. To many people these things would indicate that the car had a flat tire, but I had never had a flat tire before. I decided to pull over, get my phone, call Phil, put the phone on speaker, start driving again, and hope that he could hear the noise and advise me on what to do. He advised me to stop driving the car because it sounded like I had a flat tire. After a few minutes he came to help me. Since I don’t know how to change a tire he did it for me. It was pouring rain. When he got home and took the busted tire out of the car it rolled directly into our basement window and broke the glass. Upon further investigation, it looked like my tires were just old and rotten and that tire had burst open because the rubber had rotted. I had these tires for over 7 years and probably should have replaced them. Neglecting one problem usually creates multiple problems. We now had a broken window, no groceries, and I needed 4 new tires. We were also soaking wet.
I remained calm the entire time and I wasn’t hysterical, severely stressed, or overwhelmed.
If I had gotten this flat tire a month ago it would have been after I left work at 6pm (a 9 hour day). It would have most likely happened while going directly to the grocery store after work. I wouldn’t have gotten any of my graduate work done yet and I wouldn’t have gone running yet, the 2 things that I care about more than anything in the world. This would have turned my life upside down and essentially wrecked my entire week because I would have been miles behind already, on a Monday. I couldn’t handle spontaneous disasters or problems a month ago because I simply didn’t have time for them. I barely had time to sleep, wash my hair, or eat dinner. I was miserable and something like this would have set me over the edge. Luckily, I made a change. I don’t seek spontaneous disasters or problems, but if they do happen to arise they don’t upset me much anymore. If this had happened a month ago I would have had an anxiety attack. I would not have been able to eat dinner until 10pm, I would have ran at midnight, and stayed up until I had to go to work the next morning doing my graduate work because that was the only time I would have had to do it. The next day I would have been miserable because I would have had to leave home early to drop my car off to get new tires put on it, then I would have worked until 6pm, went to get the car, went to the grocery store, gotten home after 8pm, needed to run, and then I would have, again, stayed up all night doing work. I would have felt like the world was closing in on me. I would have felt hopeless and broken because the things that I care about and enjoy were being pushed down further and further on the totem pole each and every day. I would have been behind before I even really started my week.
Below is a post that I wrote toward the end of December. I never published it because I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling. I was essentially steering my life with rotten tires just hoping that one wouldn’t explode and flatten on me in the worst possible time….
Recently a friend told me she admired all of the things that I was doing and it nearly brought me to tears because, honestly, I am not as well put together as people think. People can paint a picture of their lives any way they choose. I guess I painted a portrait of a girl who can do it all and never falter. People don’t know this, but all of the things I am doing are a combination of the perfect storm, a personal crisis waiting to happen, and definite failure.
I went back to school in September of 2014 because I felt in my heart that that was a choice I had to make. I felt like I wouldn’t find the happiness I craved any other way. I needed to follow my heart or I would continue living in regret and mourning over a missed opportunity and a chance at obtaining my dreams. Up until that point I wanted nothing more than to be back in school and until that moment when I sent the application the world did everything imaginable to keep me out of school. When I clicked send that day in May of 2014 things finally fell into place and I was finally on a path that was going in the direction that I wanted to go.
Now, over a year later I find myself struggling more than I was before I had what I wanted. It’s like this, you have a coffee cup that you can carry when it’s filled 3/4 of the way without spilling any coffee. You can move as freely and as quickly as you want. It’s perfect. Occasionally, you take a sip and it’s less full so you get a refill because no matter what you always want more. One day you decide, when you are refilling your cup, that filling it to the top is a good idea. You’ll be careful not to spill the coffee because this is what you really want. People warn you that you could spill that coffee on your hands and burn yourself but you say, “I’ll be careful and I won’t get burnt”. Now you have all of the coffee. A full cup. You could not be happier, but you can’t walk as fast as you did when it was only 3/4 full. You aren’t moving as freely. No one understands why you keep missing out on the things you used to do. People you know are having a get together but you aren’t there because carrying this full cup of coffee is challenging and as you walk faster to join them the coffee starts to drip down the side. You are loosing touch with the things you love and the things you are passionate about because doing them causes the coffee to spill even more. You stop enjoying coffee because it’s hurting you.
The. Coffee. Burns. You.
Last spring I failed a class. I should explain that in my graduate program below a B is failing and if you get below a B you have to retake the class. I did not get a B. I found out while I was on vacation in Colorado that I failed this particular class. After crying for 2 days straight I decided that if graduate school was important to me I would retake the class. I know I failed the class because I didn’t have adequate time to focus on my degree. Unfortunately, I didn’t change that.
Recently I had a meltdown over my research proposal, how far behind I am, how I won’t have it done by this quarter’s end and I’ll likely be delaying my actual research as a result, and how I feel like my work is subpar. This coupled with other life stressors set me over the edge. I had burned myself with the coffee and now it was blistering. This was not the kind of meltdown where you are upset and then get over it, this was the kind where you are hyperventilating and absolutely distressed. This was following the meltdown I had a few days prior about not having adequate time to run and feeling disappointed in my marathon debut. Finally, I admitted to Phil that I can’t do all of these things anymore. I cannot stay awake until 3am or later anymore doing work. I cannot work full time and be in school full time anymore. I cannot do all of these things and continue to run competitively anymore. I cannot struggle to get through the day in a state of pure exhaustion, frustration, and stress anymore.
I. Cannot. Do. Everything. Anymore.
It’s amazing how saying it outload makes it seem okay for it to be true, and when I said it something amazing happened. Phil took half of the coffee that was burning my hands and put it in his cup. Almost instantly we were able to figure out a solution together.
I burned myself for the last time. I had been taking entirely too many credits, working full time, coaching, running, and trying to withhold other daily responsibilities and obligations. There was no time to enjoy life. Moving into 2016 I am going to make the very difficult and emotional decision to leave my full time job. This is a decision I have been struggling with for the past 6 months, if not longer. I’ll start doing my internships in the summer and working full time would become impossible at that point anyway. I am trusting that I will find my way to where I need to be at this point in my life.
Without a risk there is no reward. The journey I am on with graduate school is the riskiest journey I’ve ever been on, but it is also the thing in life that is making me feel the happiest and most fulfilled. 2016 will be a year of change and sacrifice, but hopefully it will also be the year that I find balance in my life and learn to enjoy the people and things in my life a little more than I’ve been able to in 2015.
My tire was flat and my basement window was broken. But, guess what, I was able to get both things fixed the next day because I willing to ask for help. In my life I was doing too many things and I was afraid that admitting that and asking for help would make me look like a failure. I was afraid to ask for help when I needed it the most. I believe that my life this past year is symbolic to my flat and rotten tires. Eventually, because I didn’t make a change (in life or with the tires), things started to fall apart around me.
You can stand in the ruins of your life alone, or you can ask for help while you pick up the pieces. If you choose the latter chances are the things that are broken can be fixed quicker and more efficiently.
Could you imagine if I had tried to change that tire myself?? I would still be on the side of the road…….