I wrote this last year - but I re-read it the other day, got goose bumps and teared up again, and I knew then that I needed to share it here. The words you say to others are so important. They can shut you down or lift you up.
“But, you’re not a runner.”
That’s what someone said to me two weeks AFTER I ran my first 5k. I know that what he meant was, “Wow! You accomplished something you’ve never done before,” but that’s not the words he used.
Later that day, that phrase came into my head again, “You’re not a runner.” I started thinking about it, and I realized that the statement was true of the old me; the one whose best friend of 23 years hadn’t yet died of cancer; the one whose life and career were in a rut, in imminent danger of becoming stale and burned out. That version of me stopped existing on Oct. 4, 2008.
The new me started growing a few months later, after the shell shock of saying goodbye to Rochelle started to wear off and life started to make sense again. The new me knows that my life will be what I decide to make it, and that I will be whatever I choose, not what anyone else tells me I am or am not. I live with the constant memory of how fragile life is, and am dedicated to having a life that is well-lived. The new me is no longer afraid of failure or success, or of dreaming new dreams and changing course.
Since the day I was reminded that I’m “not a runner,” I have run a half marathon, and I’m currently training to do two more this spring. I’ve experienced the runner’s high, and the injured runner’s low. I’ve had the joy of running on a sunny summer morning, and the pain of 13.1 miles in the pouring rain. I’ve listened to my friends and family tell me how impressed and inspired they are by what I’ve done in such a short time. I’ve watched my own mom turning into a runner, and I’m excited to cheer her on and run with her for her first half marathon.
I wonder how many times I’ve let success slip by me because someone said something that discouraged me. I can think of a few. Because someone else didn’t expect success from me, I let myself live down to their expectations. Instead of living up to my own expectations, I let a dream go unfulfilled. How often have the words and actions of others, disguised as the voices of reason, stifled my dreams? Do I do this to people too? Have I encouraged someone to choose the safe path instead of encouraging them to dream big and try anyway? Perhaps, but I know that the new me doesn’t want to be a voice of reason. I want to be an encouraging spirit in my friends and families’ lives. I hope I am.
Go. Dream. Learn something new. Live your life. Be happy. Grow as needed. Change when necessary. Love without regret. Be there. Try harder. Don’t wait.