Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Learning to Trust Myself through Triathlon

I, like so many others, am indecisive. For as long as I can remember I have had trouble making decisions. Sometimes I just genuinely didn't care, other times I was so torn between my choices that I made someone else decide for me. It started off small, in a way I was unable to detect. A friend where I wanted to go for dinner and I would let them choose. It didn't really matter to me so I gave the decision making power over to them. Little did I realize that each time I let someone else make a decision for me I was loosing the ability to make a decision on my own.

The other weekend I thought it would be a good idea to do whatever workouts I wanted. I was going to decide what sounded fun and brought fire into my soul. This plan backfired in a major way. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do because I'm so used to someone else making decisions for me. I have become so dependent on other people that I couldn't even decide between going for a run or to yoga. The amount of anxiety I got while trying to make this decision was my first big clue that something was going on that needed to be fixed.

From talking with friends I think this inability to make decisions is something a lot of us struggle with. And it makes sense. For so long our parents are our primary decision makers. And when our parents aren't making decisions for us, society is. Going to college wasn't a choice I made but rather an expectation that was placed on me. Don't get me wrong, given the choice I still would have gone to college because I have always loved school and quite frankly can't learn enough. Now that I have graduated college I am in this limbo, where my choices and decisions are still influenced by my family and what my professors and advisors expect of me yet I yearn to make them myself.

I've been asking myself the question "why" a lot recently. Why am I training for an ironman, why am I going to grad school, why am I not traveling the world during my time off from school. Some of the things I thought I wanted I am realizing are really things that the people around me want, and I am not okay with that. This is my life and I should be the one to shape it, cultivate it, make it everything I have ever dreamed of.

I've spent the past few days on a quest to find my voice and figure out what I really want in life. Right now that means not doing a half ironman prior to racing Ironman Lake Placid in July. Pretty much as soon as I signed up for Lake Placid I was looking for a 70.3 I could do in late May/early June as a tune-up race. Even though I found a race months ago I had been hesitant to bite the bullet and sign up. After months of putting off signing up it occurred to me that maybe there was a reason for my procrastination. When I really thought about it, I had no desire to do this race. I knew I should but it was giving me more anxiety than necessary.

When I came to endurance sports a few years ago I had no idea what I wanted out of training and racing, other than something to fill my time with. I dabbled with stand alone running races but something was off. It wasn't until I found triathlon that I truly fell in love. And while yes, I do love the training, what I really love about triathlon is the ability to race. To be more than a mere participant and go head-to-head with other competitors. I love the combination of the speed and endurance that is required to truly race these events.

I was lacking motivation to train for my ironman in a way that initially shocked me, but doesn't so much anymore. My entire year is pretty much dedicated to this one race, in which I am more of a participant that a competitor. I have given up so much in order to do this race, and I in no way regret any of it, but it was starting to take a toll on me mentally. When it hit me that what I really wanted to do was race, rather than complete another long distance triathlon I was plagued with anxiety. I was up almost the whole night thinking about how I was supposed to do this one race. I was so torn between what I was supposed to do and what I wanted to do that almost couldn't do anything at all. This decision consumed me because I didn't know how to listen to my own voice and do the thing that makes my heart sing.

In an effort to find this voice, I am on a quest to choose to do something every damn day. That might be sleeping in, or treating myself to a chai tea latte. Maybe it is taking a pit stop of the way to the store to meditate at the park. All I know is that I need to stop letting everyone decide my life for me.

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