Finding My Own Ceiling

Jumping from running age group to elite is a lot to wrap my mind around. I feel scared. Worried about what I might be leaving behind. Worried that my ego might be broken and that I might be last. It’s weird really, someone always has to be last. The problem is that for so long in life I think I felt like I was last. Maybe there is some trauma there. 

Being first or on the podium in general helped to fight off those feelings of not being good enough from my days of high school sports. I got recognized and complemented and that’s something I didn’t really get from coaches or fellow athletes when I was younger. I’d love to say that I do all this for me. And I suppose I do. But I do it to fix me. To heal the wounds that apparently are deeper than I knew. Sports specific wounds that I never really noticed before getting into sports as an adult. I like gold stars and pats on the back. I like to be recognized when I work hard and especially when I improve. I would say that is one of my biggest flaws. I can admit that my own gauge of my success isn’t always enough validation for me. I tend to want someone who I view as being higher up on the ladder to let me know I’m succeeding (I hate this about myself and continue to work on it). I’ve known that I struggle with this for quite awhile. It was hard at a group training gym and it’s sometimes hard with a coach. I want to not need anyone else’s validation, I try not to. Yet the need lingers in my subconscious. I seem to seek it continuously in sport.

Maybe it’s because I don’t trust my own judgment. Seeing myself as an athlete or possessing any athletic ability worth recognizing is not something I am familiar with. I’ve never sought out someone else’s validation with academics or art, but I can recognize that I am good at those things. Sports are different. I want the people who know what they’re doing to let me know I’m doing it well. I hate it. I want it to go away. Especially because in my soul I know I don’t need it. But yet my soul still seems to want it so badly. My hope is that as I grow as an athlete I am able to trust myself more and that my own pride for my accomplishments will be enough. 

High fives and hell yeahs. They make me feel good. But I also want to be better. I want to be my best self and I know I am currently so far from my own ceiling. Jumping to the next level might involve some heart break. It’s definitely going to involve disappointment and regret from time to time. But I have to do it for me. I spend so much time and money on this sport. I have to see how far I can go. I don’t need the praises of others because I don’t believe in myself. I absolutely do. I know I can show up. I’ve just always wanted others to recognize when I do. This is honestly something hard for me to admit. A discussion of I’ve only truly had with the one person who understands me more than I understand myself. It feels embarrassing. But it feels important to acknowledge so that I can work on overcoming it. 

The age group winner podium picture and medal fill a temporary void. In that moment I feel accomplished and recognized. But I always go home wondering what more I could have done, how much more I could have pushed myself. I want to stop wondering and start doing. It won’t be easy. Mentally it’ll be a whole new challenge. New barriers and discomforts to push through. But in the end it’ll only make me stronger.

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