How To Finish A Marathon: An Ode to Showing Up
It’s been a month since I’ve launched The Wednesday Club. A month of being consistent and making sure I show up with wisdom and encouragement in people’s inbox every Humpday.
In the grand scheme of things, a month isn’t a very long time. But that’s all it takes before a person’s commitment begins to falter. That’s not an actual statistic. I’m just trying to give myself an excuse for why I should stop showing up. We humans are notorious at finding any reason to give up. We disguise them in promises and make them look pretty by saying “we’ll start again next month.” We play the pity card and tell ourselves that things have been really difficult lately, and we can’t possibly persist while life is this hectic. We justify why it’s pointless to continue pursuing our goals by citing reasons such as ‘too hard’ or ‘no time.’ We convince ourselves that it’s better for everyone if we press pause and come back to it when we’re older, wiser or wealthier.
People will say many things when you tell them you’re running out of steam. They’ll tell you that any goal you’ve set your sights on, or any journey you intend to take, is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m in the middle of a six year Uni degree, so I know how hard it is to see the finish line when you’re in the thick of it. If I had a dollar for every time someone threw this cliché at me, I wouldn’t need to be in law school anymore. But as much as I hate certain clichés, I know that people wouldn’t say them unless it had an element of truth. I’ve run a marathon before, so I know this particular metaphor does have some weight to it.
When we launch ourselves off the starting line, we like to sprint off and pat ourselves on the back for committing to this tremendous goal. But as the race goes on, we get winded. People will surge ahead and make us question if we’re going too slow or if we should increase our pace. The cheering spectators begin to dissipate and soon there’s just you, the track and 40 km to go. With nothing to do but run, you start to wonder if anyone cares whether or not you finish. The burning sensation in your muscles will scream at you to stop and you’ll be tempted to ask if you should keep going.
In the same vein, I started my writing journey by sprinting and initially covering a great distance. I made a promise that I would be vulnerable and honest with my struggles, so others would know they’re not the only messy ones out there. Four months later, and the shine and sparkle of a new beginning has well and truly worn off, and doubt has begun to rest in its place. I convince myself that no one will care if I show up with my words, and I should just stop running now before I pull a muscle. Any artist will tell you how hard it is to keep going when you’re putting stuff out in a void and it feels like no one can hear you.
“Should I keep going?” I texted someone, hoping they’d give me the excuse I needed to stop. “Does this matter?”
I binge watched four seasons of ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Elementary’ over the weekend. Occasionally I immerse myself in fictional crime dramas because I love a good mystery, but I also need a clear-cut resolution within 50 minutes.
Every episode, Sherlock and Watson will examine every part of the deceased’s life to find out what type of life they used to lead before it all went wrong. They comb through belongings, interview loved ones and slowly piece together clues to deduce what type of person the victim was.
Perhaps I’m being incredibly morbid and creepy, but that’s what happens when you’re a sentimental human who attaches deep meaning to every interaction.
If every part of my life were laid out on the table to be examined, I want the evidence to show that I was someone who consistently showed up. I want them to see the emotional scars and bruises that reveal I fought hard for the things I wanted. That I wasn’t passive. That my heart was for serving people and every word that came out of my lips was said with love and used for good. At the end of my life, I want the person investigating my case to say, “Here lies a girl who used all the gifts she was given to her fullest potential, and she finished strong. Nowhere was there a box marked Unfulfilled Dreams or Wasted Efforts.”
All this to say that I know it’s the easiest thing in the world to find a reason to give up on your dream, your degree or your life. It’s easy to wonder if there’s anyone supporting you or whether it’s worth it to push through the heaviness of a depressive fog. I know it’s far easier to succumb to the lie that you’re not worth a lot, rather than to fight to believe that you matter. And it’s oh so easy to believe that if you were someone different, then people would care more.
“Why did you start this again?” asked a friend. “Why even put yourself out there in the first place?”
“I don’t know,” I whined back.
“Yes, you do,” he said.
And it’s true. I do know. I know in my bones that someday, somewhere, a girl is going to scroll and read through all of my thoughts and it’s going to give her the hope she needs to keep going. I feel it within every fibre of my being.
I know because that girl was once me.
It took someone else showing up to the blank page week after week and writing out their battles to give me the strength I needed to fight my own. Now that’s become my hope for this space. That it becomes the map you use to navigate through your feelings. That it becomes the guide you need to tell you that yes, things are messy now. Things hurt and everything feels tangled together, and oh my goodness why do you have a bajillion feelings?! But you are ok and you will pull through. That this truth will etch into your bones: someone else has made it out the other side and you will too.
“Should I keep going?” I texted someone. “Does this matter?”
The answer is yes.
It’s always yes to something that you know in your heart is your purpose.
It might not be today or tomorrow, but someone, somewhere, is going to need your heart, your actions and your presence to show up for them.
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You have the amazing ability to succinctly encapsulate exactlyyy how I feel at times, thank you for showing up ❤️
You’re a gem Elsie! Let’s both keep on keeping on 💪
Ashley, I am SO glad you keep showing up. I love your words and your heart. I have no doubt you are making a positive difference in the lives of many. 💛 Thanks for being an awesome human.