Transformation.

July 31, 2014 at 6:12 am | Posted in And I ran (I ran so far away), Career angst | 4 Comments

Thank goodness I pressed “publish” the other day. I feel so much better now that I posted it.

I just hate feeling wishy-washy. Posting that I want to quit my job, but I can’t… or won’t… or some combination thereof… posting about that seems, well, disingenuous.

And redundant. OMG, so redundant. How many have you heard about how miserable I am with the job for SO MANY YEARS NOW? Seriously, Serenity. Either DO something about it or shut up already.

But I had to address it, because even though I KNOW my happiness would increase in a lot of ways if I quit my job, the anxiety over money and the lack of stuff we can do as a result of losing 40% of our income would mostly negate it.

I just need to figure out a way to navigate this career I have now AND focus on what’s best for my family.

And, quite honestly, it’s my nature to move, to DO something, to plan for the next thing, and a lot of times I wonder if my freakouts about how much I dislike my job is just a smoke screen for this desire for change. Yes, it’s true that my job does not bring me much joy. Or even satisfaction, if I’m being honest.  But this seems to be my pattern, too. I’m miserable and I feel this need to change things up, because the change will make me happy.

That’s not really how it works, though. Change for change’s sake isn’t the right choice either.

So I am trying to temper my all or nothing tendency here and figure out a plan that is rational, reasonable, AND gives me more of the things I like about my job: time to run, time home with Lucky, and enough money where I don’t need to worry about paying the bills or taking the random weekend away.

So now that you’re caught up on the work-Serenity-induced-drama, there’s so much more I want to talk about.

Like running.

For the past four years, I’ve been kind of obsessed with running races. I hired a great coach, ran track intervals, added weight training exercises specific to running, and was strict about my calorie intake to get into a weight range which would put me into a “lean” body fat percentage. Because when you’re running, every pound counts, and the leaner and lighter you are, the faster you can go.

Last summer, you guys, I was THERE. I was 2lbs away from my goal body fat percentage, I was running fast, I wasn’t injured, and I was ready to set the world on fire. I wanted to run a Boston Qualifier race in my October marathon.

The thing is, marathons are tricky. If something goes wrong, it can really affect your time. We’re talking an extra half hour on your time because of a blister. I did not have a good race day – instead of BQing, I blew up into tiny little runner pieces on the back half of the course.

I came out of that experience with a renewed vow to hit my training hard over the winter and see if a different strategy would get me at least a sub-4:00 marathon.

And, of course, this winter was terrible. It was frigid and full of snow, and I didn’t bother taking the conditions into account whenever I went out and ran my runs. Consequently, I trained myself right into the ground. I got slower and more tired, and I couldn’t get my legs to turnover. And I was cold ALL THE TIME. And hungry, too.  OMG, so hungry. And cold.

(Did I mention the cold and hunger?)

It was awful.

It wasn’t until my friend D remarked to me, when I was complaining about yet another cold and snowy run, I guess I just don’t get why you insist on doing something that steals your joy.

She might not have said those actual words, but holy shit, she was right.

So I changed my goal for my spring marathon. I ran slower and ate more. And on the incredibly, awesomely, frustratingly hot day of my marathon, I ran a full half hour slower than my personal best.

And I decided that day that I was done with marathons for the time being.

Since then, I’ve struggled with insomnia and life stress and achilles tendinitis. And with all the anxiety, I’ve needed my running like I’ve never needed it before. Except the idea of racing – the time goals, pushing for a personal best, running when it hurts and keeping going – started to feel like a shackle, a chain around my neck and waist. Track workouts became stressful; I was now chasing my friends in last year’s pace group, panicking because I’ve lost fitness. I started to not to WANT to run. After two years of running 5-6 days a week, I started to take breaks.

It was too much, all of it. I needed a break from the (largely self-imposed) pressure.

So I made the decision not to run my coach’s summer clinic and instead run when I could manage it for the distance I want. I do have two races planned this fall: a 10k and a half marathon. But I am no longer running a training plan, or beating myself up for not hitting my paces. I’m running with people I enjoy running with, the friends who are chill and happy and run because it’s fun and a way to catch up with friends, not because it’s a way to get faster or look better or whatever. I run by myself without a watch, going only for mileage and not time.

It is SO FREEING – and I love running again.

It’s little things like this – walking away from personal best chasing because I now recognize how much pressure I put on myself. Allowing myself to be 5lbs heavier than some self-determined optimal weight because I now recognize that my number is completely arbitrary and allows for no joy in cooking – and eating – good food.

And, you see, THIS is how I know I’m going to be okay, that eventually I’m going to free myself from the restrictions and pressure and misery I heap on myself.

This is how I know I’ll figure out the work thing eventually, too.

It’s so hard to write about the subtlety of transformation. Because really, the fact that I am not focused on racing or counting calories doesn’t seem like a big deal by itself. But it gives me a lot of hope that I’m starting down a path of real self-acceptance.

And happiness.

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4 Comments »

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  1. I find I can always tell the hard-core marathoners in our neighbourhood. They are impossibly lean and impossibly fast, and they so often look like they are being tortured as they run. It is rare that I see a very very fast runner who looks happy running.

    Well done you, for taking a step back. I know it would have been hard. I’m so glad to hear running makes you happy again.
    xoxo

  2. I am so glad that you came to what feels right and brings you JOY in running. Yes, why would anyone keep doing something that didn’t feel good, or bring them joy, especially something elective.

    Which, brings me to your job. I have to comment on something you said, that ‘change for change sake’ isn’t the right choice. And, while that may be true, and while there may be something much bigger (deeper) going on with your chosen career (meaning, that there seems to need to be a coming to terms that accounting may never bring you joy), for as long as you have had THIS job, you have been unhappy, or largely discontented. So, I believe that ‘change for change sake’ not being right is a cop out.

    You know I am not advocating leaving 40% of your household income for 0K, but I do believe that there is a way for you to earn a decent (or more than decent income) doing accounting work for a different company or for yourself that would or could be more satisfying.

    I liken it to what I am up against. It probably unlikely that I am going to get my clinic to create a position for me (one that I want, anyway) and that I may have to return to the staffing industry in order to command the kind of salary that will put us in the black again, but it is a trade-off I accept making. I no longer look for any of my joy or happiness in my work (yes, it would be awesome if my next position was a paid passion project, but I am ok it it’s not). I want to contribute, make a difference even, but earn a living as what brings me joy, true joy, happiness and contentment lies outside of work and THAT is more than OK (for me).

    So, yes, you could do the work to have a paradigm shift in terms of the internal dialogue you have re; this current job OR you could endeavor to make a change (and it wouldn’t, in my estimation, be just for the sake of change).

  3. I love this post. It’s a HUGE deal that you were able to make these changes and transform in this way. A HUGE DEAL. And I’m so happy for you. Learning about yourself, being honest with yourself, changing your plan based on those things, that is hard to do, but you did it.

    I think there are still a lot of things that I haven’t let myself learn about who I am. I was just thinking that I got what I wanted with zero period Spanish, but I’m probably going to be miserable this year teaching it, waking up at 5:30am every day to get there in time to make copies and be ready for a 7am class. Instead of doing the hard work to learn to REALLY budget and keep our costs down, I just found a way to work myself to the bone to make more money, which is what I always do. I’m disappointed in myself because I know I’ll be too tired and too stressed to do that hard financial work this year, and I created a situation that will make me really unhappy, because I don’t know how to change in the right ways. I have been meaning to write about this actually… maybe this post will inspire me to finally do it.

  4. […] Serenity Now! […]


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