I was on the yearbook staff in high school, and while working on the layout for the water polo team, I came across a photo of me playing goalie with my arms outstretched, and my eyes closed. I was very happy to have the chance to make sure that photo hit the editing floor, as my flailing arms and fear on my face had no business being in print for the rest of my life.
I don't think I ever played goalie again after that practice. I knew I wasn't good, and as young as I was I didn't see it as an opportunity for growth, but instead as an opportunity for ridicule and humiliation. And while it seems everyone gains a bit more confidence with age, there are still moments when I find myself letting doubt and fear take over. I often ask myself "what if this goes wrong?"
This was the motive behind choosing "brave" as my #oneword2012. My intention wasn't to go all Katniss on the world, but rather making myself be vulnerable, and open to learning when things went wrong. I made an effort to honor my feelings more and share them with others, to live by my values even if it meant I voiced the "unpopular" view, and to take the time to do things that make me happy. And while this may seem to have a strong internal focus, I was surprised at how this "inner" focus allowed me to be more open to "outward" experiences.
This year I committed to running a marathon. I once said I would run one before I turned 30, which came and went with nary a road race to be found. In one of those moments of self-rationalization (I'm really good at that), I decided that running a marathon when I still was 30, was the next best thing. I had a couple of great friends also jump on this crazy band wagon, and we all signed up for the Dallas Marathon on December 9th.
While at a networking event this fall, I met another man who was also training for the Dallas Marathon. He asked me who I was training with, and I mentioned that sometimes my friends and I were able to run together, but for the most part, I was doing my training runs solo with some great advice from a faculty member in my department. He was shocked that I was training without the assistance of a running club/group. I tried to explain that this was something I was doing for myself. I wasn't out to find a running group, or to become a part of a running community. I was doing this so I could show myself that it could be done. So that for once I could quiet the voice in my head that always says "what if this goes wrong?"
I cried three times while running that day (and once the day before at packet pick up). I was six minutes slower than my goal pace (sub 5 hours), but as I crossed the finish line I was overwhelmed with appreciation for myself. I had done it. I had completed something that was solely for me. That truly pushed my limits. It was an indescribable experience that I will forever carry deep in my heart.
I never considered myself someone who let "worry" get in the way until I realized just how many things I stopped myself from doing out of fear of looking foolish, or not being the best. Pushing beyond this worry and fear was how I chose to frame my #oneword2012, and will definitely influence my #oneword2013.