I remember my first year at university and living in an apartment that was just a 3 minute walk from the beach. That view gave me the motivation to start running again. I used to run on-and-off during my high school years. It was just for me, nothing professional, no teams, just me and the road ahead but I injured my foot a few months prior to graduating high school and I had to stop running for a while.
When I moved to Zadar, the view of the sea and that whole image of running by the beach gave me the motivation to start running again even if it was a bit too early. I would wake up early so I could do my run, shower and get to my classes. One morning it was a bit cold outside because there was a storm the night before. The waves splashed the shore and the road. One thing I was not counting on is that it would be very slippery on the beach. While I was on the road it was all good but after a while, I jumped down to the stone paved beach and noticed my feet were sliding further back and it was hard to hold my balance.
Before I could stop myself or get back on the road, I fell down. My knees and palms hurting, my phone and earphones flew away. I knew I hurt my thigh because I could feel it pulsating. I got up, picked up my phone, carefully got up to the road and continued my run. I’ve never felt that type of power in my life. I took the phrase “fall down and get back up” literally.
I don’t know what made me do it. I remember coming back to my apartment, jumping in the shower and there was just blood on my thigh. I had a little wound that was physical but, despite falling down, I did not have a wounded pride or felt any embarrassment. I felt power and I felt good about myself. My running didn’t stop there.
Today, I look at my decisions and how I manage falling down literally and figuratively. Now I get anxious when I fail, I beat myself down about my mistakes, I constantly question myself for not having figured out what I want to do with my life. I drop every good habit I build, such as working out or journaling and then I make myself feel awful for not being able to maintain a healthy habit. Instead of carefully walking to the road and continuing my run, I am trying to run on a slippery stone paved beach. I am not standing up and the run is never finished.
Why? Why do I do this? What is the difference between me now and me then?
I was about 19 then and I am 25 now. Then, I wasn’t defined by anything. I was at that beautiful stage of life where you feel like the world is at your feet and you have the chance to try new things and find yourself but I wasn’t in a rush to define myself. I had labels such as “student”, “part-time waitress”, “blogger” but none of those were defining. It was okay to fall down because that didn’t mean I failed. It just meant that I have to try again or find another path.
I don’t know where this shift happened. All of the sudden, the world that was once at my feet was now on my shoulders. The labels went from being non-defining, to being a burden. “College dropout”, “no career path”, “average blogger”, “no future”. I expected myself to know what I want to do, to become mature and I was anything but.
I know that people around me saw me as an adult and I realized I would trade all of that to be an irresponsible teenager who has to ask her mom for permission to go out on Friday. There is this line that society, capitalism or someone else drew and that line is the line up to which you can be an undefined kid. Once you come to that line, you are supposed to jump over it as a functioning adult who has their life figured out and knows what they are doing. I think there are rare people who succeed at this jump. Most of us are just faking it to comply with what’s expected of us. That line is dropping lower and lower, giving us less time to be undefined.
I liked being undefined. I liked not knowing what was waiting for me or what I am going to do. I liked having this mystery about my life and having this space to dream, fantasize and picture what I want. Now, I have bills I have to pay, a job I have to do, I know exactly what my day is going to look like tomorrow. I have a book idea but I am still to put it on paper because something always pops up or I am just too exhausted for my creativity to have time to run freely. I am not defining myself by what I could do, but by what I have to do and when I fall down and I define myself as a failure.
I give up because it’s easier. I am not writing my book because I started writing many books and I defined myself as a failure when I would hit writers block. I am using the vast world of distractions social media has to offer to numb myself down.
I believed I wanted to build a successful career at something. I believed that I just wanted a high salary because I don’t ever want to live in poverty again. I believed I wanted to make my mother proud. I believed I wanted to exercise and eat healthy. I believed I wanted to be a professional blogger. I believed I wanted to be a digital marketing expert. I believed I wanted to be a youtuber. My latest belief is that I want to be a project manager.
I could go on for hours with these “wants” and “beliefs” but at the end of the day, what I want most in life is to just be undefined.
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