Lately I have been feeling disconnected from myself. I haven’t been making time to write and as a result my brain feels like a hurricane blew through it and then someone picked up the wreckage as quickly as possible, shoved it in a shed, forced the door shut, and then ran away without looking back. If that shed door opens everything is going to spill out creating another HUGE mess, and I have been stacking boulders in front of the door to keep it closed as long as I possibly can. Now, here I am attempting to move the boulders and examine the wreckage because I simply cannot allow myself to use avoidance as a tactic for dealing with my life any longer.
As a goal driven person, I am disappointed in myself for having no clue what I am doing in my personal and professional life. I am training for a marathon and I have a long list of home improvement projects that Phil and I are slowly working on, but other than that I am very lost. The marathon training has grounded me and given me something to focus on while I figure the rest out. Running is going well and I am thankful for that.
This isn’t the first time this year that I am admitting I am lost. Six months ago I decided that I was going to take some time to explore possibilities and opportunities and really think about what I want to do. In conclusion, the possibilities are endless, the opportunities are extremely limited, and I STILL don’t know what I want to do. Instead, I have a lot of ideas that I would like to pursue, a lot of paths I could take, a lot of goals I could set, but instead I am sitting in my kitchen at 10pm on a Wednesday drinking cinnamon coffee, wondering what the future holds, and trying to decide what I should do next. It’s a scary thought especially when I don’t even know what tomorrow will bring–I don’t even know what I want tomorrow to bring. It would be nice if I did because then I could feel something. Right now (outside of running) I don’t feel anything except empty, which may be surprising because I live a happy life with a lot of amazing perks. I don’t dread going to work and I genuinely like my job and my coworkers. I feel very lucky because in previous jobs this wasn’t always my reality. I live in a beautiful place that allows me to go on an adventure anytime I choose. I have a mountain in my back yard and my dream kitchen with a huge sink. I have made great friends here. The local running community is wonderful. People show up to my running club runs every single week, and I love the friendly competition between everyone in the local race circuit. I go to work, I run, I drink lots of coffee, I hang out with the cats, I go to my bookclub, I go to the gym, I hike up mountains, I watch the sunset, Phil and I fix the house, and we walk around town and wave to our friends and neighbors. This is the kind of life that I’d once fantasized about having! Here I sit though, feeling lost and empty. My day to day life is a wonderful distraction from the empty, unsettled feeling that creeps in at 10pm on a Wednesday.
Just now as I typed the words “I don’t feel anything except empty” I immediately began to feel more connected and whole. Brutal honesty changes everything. I am a deep thinker. I am very introspective and reflective and I have been shutting that part of who I am off by not continuing to write. I have been avoiding the wreckage of my life to the point where I have become emotionless. I’ve settled into living day to day, wandering down whichever road is in front of me, forgetting all about what is important to me. After a while it all just made me numb–the rejection, the frustration of defeat, the despair of seeing what I want so clearly and coming so close but still falling short, the fact that I can’t catch a career related break has perpetually crushed my soul and I have nothing left to feel. I’ve taken the wreckage and locked it away. With each let down, each frustration, each time I’ve reached out and asked for help only to be disappointed when help was not delivered, I have lost a piece of who I am. I’ve been relentless for so long that it has exhausted me, and now I am idle.
I have become so empty inside that I had no emotion when I was rejected for a job I’ve applied for three different times since moving here. I am so empty that I wasn’t even sad or shocked when I asked someone to help me out by writing a reference letter and they didn’t. I am so empty that I have contemplated shutting down my business. Lately, I’ve been contemplating quitting coaching all together but I am too gritty to actually go through with that. I am so empty that after spending years working on my thesis and trying to lead a crusade for women in coaching, I’ve placed that document on a shelf and let it collect dust for the last six months. I am so empty that I haven’t even been writing, and writing brings me peace and serenity when nothing else does–not even running can do that for me. I’ve forged a disconnect between who I am and what my circumstances are because I cannot be me effectively in these circumstances. Rather than sort it all out, I’ve locked it away. To sort through the wreckage seemed too cumbersome and since my day to day life is a joyful distraction I’ve been able to avoid it all.
After openly sharing all of that, I feel invigorated enough to finally answer a question that was brought up this weekend with the hope that the emptiness will start to dissipate. The question is, “if you had unlimited resources and you could not fail, what would you attempt to do?” At the time, this question stifled me even though deep down below the emptiness I knew what I would do, I just didn’t want to go there. In fact, I would do four things. First, I would write. Writing allows me to connect, it allows me to sort things out, and I enjoy it. A few months ago I started writing a book based on the contents of my blog and then I abruptly stopped because I wasn’t confident in the idea. The book is a parallel between then (when I first started blogging) and now with the application of a changed mindset addressing the interpersonal struggles I’ve had associated with running. It is also a very unfiltered version of me just genuinely being me and sharing my stories as a female athlete navigating her way through the sport. If I could find the courage to actually follow through, this would be a great tool throughout the rest of my career. I have told exactly two people about this [once] and then I NEVER mentioned it again, until now. Honestly, I believe that if I could do this everything else would fall into place with coaching and running and building my client base. Second, I would finish the remaining 33 mentored hours I need so I can apply to take the CMPC exam and actually work in the field of sport psychology. Fear is the only reason I haven’t done this. Not doing this is the professional equivalent of running 25 miles of a marathon and dropping out for no reason. Third, I would dust my thesis off and do something with it. Finally, and this is the only thing I am actually doing, I’d train effectively and push myself in my own running. Amazingly, in all of this mess, I feel so at peace and so content with who I am as an athlete. It has taken me years to sort that out and cultivate a healthy relationship with running–another reason why I really want to pursue this book idea. Running has always kept me grounded and connected to who I am at the core and the older I become the more I am able to identify with that in a positive and healthy way. It isn’t like it used to be. Confidence is something I struggle to own, but the struggle lessens each day. Being confident gets easier every single time I trust myself.