Some of the most satisfying and enriching things I have participated in I decided upon on a whim. Studying abroad in China, running in the NYC Half Marathon– both of these substantial commitments were made based on some fleeting desire of mine that I acted on in the moment to lock myself into a future course of action. Applying to study abroad in China was completely on a whim– I wrote my essay the day before the application deadline as a draft email while on my first coop. As for the half marathon? I’ve always wanted to run a full marathon, so when I saw on twitter that the lottery was opening I decided to put my name in. Since you have to sign up four months in advance and it is notoriously difficult to get into this particular race I figured I would worry about training for the 13.1 miles if I actually even got a spot in the race.
I call those decisions “whims” but they are really just me taking a bold step towards realizing a long held (if not well known) goal of mine. On a day when I was feeling particularly adventuresome or uninhibited I made a public commitment to do something far outside of my comfort zone. The binding nature of these commitments is what made these declarations so easy to stick to. Once I had been accepted to study abroad or gotten the lottery number for the race how could I back down then? And once the deposits had been paid, too late– you might as well start running a bit more and just run the damn race. I had already told everyone about my plans and everyone was so excited for me that it buoyed me and helped me to actually move forward with these crazy plans I had.
This comes up now because I’m afraid I’m calculating my next move too much. The best decision doesn’t always look like the right path– sometimes you just need to make the leap if it feels right and trust your gut to never lead you astray. The big difference between these one off events and things in the rest of my life is that there is no binding acceptance or lottery into figuring out what makes you happy. I need to wake up every morning with the same resolve and sense of adventure that I had in those piecemeal moments and cobble it together into a series of actions that leads me to my next big thing. What is my next big thing? Left intentionally vague, as I’m still trying to figure that out myself (along with the meaning of life and how to find a decent apartment that doesn’t cost a million dollars in NYC.)
The half marathon was an awesome experience. I like to pretend I’m humble but I not-so-secretly love all the attention I’ve gotten over the past few days from people wishing me well and asking about the race. I’m proud of myself for finishing despite having to take 6 week off from running to rehab some weird residual injuries from when I hurt my back. I also have the racing bug back, bad. The camaraderie and excitement that surrounds running is infectious. I had forgotten what I was missing until I plunged myself back into it headfirst with one of the most fun races I have had the pleasure of participating in. After I crossed the finish line my muscles were screaming at me to not do that again for a long time and I was inclined to agree with them, but by the time our post-race brunch was over I was already plotting my next big race.