It is impossible to be objective about yourself. At least it is for me.
If you can do it, congratulations, you have achieved enlightenment, but I’m not there yet, and it’s going to be a long slog to get myself there. Balancing training with life has been the most surprising challenge I’ve faced when signing up to these physical challenges. And maintaining perspective about what I was, am and actually could be capable of, is extremely difficult.
The hours required to make sure I can complete these challenges has come as a huge shock (not very enlightened, I know). When I was a teenager I could juggle my seemingly endless run of sports, social life and education but as an adult, that stamina and lack of responsibility has long gone. The thing is, it’s really hard to keep it straight in your head when the physical activity, the bit you enjoy, is not the priority of those around you. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy lots of other things in life but at the moment I’m focusing on seeing where this takes me.
It has become stressful though juggling work, life and training commitments and not wanting to let anyone (least of all myself) down. That may sound selfish, actually I know it does. Often I hear people say how those who take on demanding physical challenges, to the detriment of all other areas, are selfish. And I’m not taking on the big challenges like Marathon de Sable (I won’t be doing that one either by the way!) but it has meant reprioritisation and rediscovering what gives me enjoyment, pride and quite simply, happiness.
This stress obviously doesn't make me happy, but earlier after having one of my stressy, internal, defeatist monologues I got in touch with my friend. And she was exactly what I needed. See, I’ve been feeling ill all week and I’m now worrying about the effect it will have on my training. And she said exactly what I wanted and needed to hear; ‘I believe in you.’ Four of the most powerful words when all I’ve heard lately is my own or others’ doubt about my ability to do these tasks.
It is hard to cut out the voice of people close to you who are voicing your own fears; it’s not like you can ignore them until you’ve finished or not talk about something that is such a large part of your life with them. It’s great to have their concern but sometimes you need to hear words of encouragement rather than caution. Perhaps I shouldn’t look for this outside of myself, that’s obviously just another thing I need to work on. But knowing who you can turn to to give you some perspective, to answer your fears with reassurance and simply have someone you can rant to without fear of judgement, is such an amazing gift that one friend can give another.
So if you know someone who is trying to figure it all out, and feeling the pressure of not wanting to fail, or let anyone down, ask them what they need to hear. Better yet, tell them you believe in them; you won’t realise the strength that will give them that means they won’t give up and will help them keep going.
Disclaimer: I wrote this piece when feeling ill last week; it's amazing what that can do your mind! Normal chirpy service will resume now I'm recovered and not house bound, promise!