Have you avoided doing something because you thought you were
Not smart enough?
Not thin enough?
Not rich enough?
Not talented enough?
Not athletic enough?
Not________(fill the blank) enough?
How often have you sold yourself short? Afraid to try a new challenge?
On May 17, I did something I never thought I could or would do. For many of you, what I am about to say may not seem like a big deal. You may have run a marathon or climbed a mountain. For me, the 5K Girls on the Run event was a marathon and a mountain.
Although I like to walk and use my elliptical machine everyday, I have never thought of myself as someone who could walk a distance. But when my young granddaughter told me about the Girls on the Run event that promoted a mission for “ girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experienced-based curriculum which creatively integrates running” with a vision of “a world where very girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams” I knew that I wanted to join. I also knew these were emotionally and physically healthy goals for everyone.
So I signed up for the Run, not exactly knowing what was involved, telling my family to “wait for me in case I was last coming across the finish line”. I was determined to support this wonderful program and challenge myself.
It felt a little like performing as I anticipated the Run, even though I was one of about 4,000 participants and there was no pressure or spotlight on me. Could I actually accomplish what I set out to do? Would I feel good about myself? I discovered that the participants were not just school-age girls, but girls and women of all ages and sizes. There were also boys and men of all ages and sizes running, and even a little puppy was jogging along with his owner (but had to be carried across the finish line because he got tired). I was invested in what I was doing, determined to do my personal best (I walked), and was challenging myself with something new. Wasn’t this the purpose?
I did not buy into old beliefs that you have to be athletic and have running experience to participate. I was not competing – I looked forward to the experience despite my semi-joking that I’d be last across the finish line. I knew I would finish. And it didn’t matter how quickly. It mattered that everyone was trying their best.
The event proved to be more wonderful than I anticipated. Energy was high. The mood jovial. The school girls wore all kinds of costumes on top of their running gear. Hair was sprayed various colors – and there were people all along the route cheering at us, holding signs of encouragement, and waving us on –offering cups of water at various locations. It was a fun “can do” atmosphere – no room for self-doubts.
One of my thoughts while walking at about mile 2 (on the 3.1 mile course) was, “This support is fantastic! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this can-do, “you rock” atmosphere was present at performances of all kinds? But I also realized that “can do” is a feeling you can carry inside you all the time. It does not have to come from people cheering you on from the sidelines, although that is a great perk. My feelings of accomplishment as I neared and crossed the finish line (not last in the group!!!) were greater than I anticipated. Is there anything better than saying “I tried, and I did it!”?
Medals hanging on green ribbons were hung around each participant’s neck as we crossed the finish line. I don’t think winning an Olympic Gold medal could have felt better. The knowledge that I had done something new and challenging and had enjoyed it was a reward that will linger for a very long time. It is never too late to try. No, it was not a speech, a concert, a book publication, or winning the lottery, but self esteem is not measured only from those concrete accomplishments. Self-esteem lasts a lifetime.
In case you are curious, my granddaughter finished the race – long before I did. She ran the entire course!
It’s not the end result, but the act of doing something challenging and feeling good about yourself that is the best reward. Girls on the Run know that.
When have you last challenged yourself? When will you next challenge yourself? Please share in the “leave a reply” below with your message of “can do”.
Photo by stevendepolo