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I’m a runner. I like running because it’s hard. My favorite part is being able to look back to what I had accomplished on a run and feel a rush of amazement just caused by the thought of how intense it was. Being inclined to run, it only felt natural that I joined up with my high school Track and Field team and it was there that I experienced an epiphany. I found that not only was I mediocre at running, I was terrified of the track meets.
This quickly became a severe problem for me because my fears of the distance and the intensity and all of the expectant eyes of the team being on me were causing me to run sloppily. Worrying about disappointing my peers only further emphasized my mediocrity and my fears then called my courage into question. I would ask myself why I was afraid of running at the track meets and tell myself that if only I were more brave I would do better. This did not help. I began to do worse and this triggered another vicious cycle of self-doubt and questioning why I wasn’t brave. And while the topic is about courage, I feel it’s important to explain that to me at the time, courage in Track and Field was to be undaunted by the pain and suffering that lie ahead in a race. In hindsight, this idea of what being courageous in track is was quite unrealistic. I now see that it’s completely normal to be afraid of pain: because it hurts.
It was only until recently that I found solace in this issue and came to me in the form of an article titled, “The Courage Crutch: A Remarkable Life Requires You to Overcome Mediocrity, Not Fear.” In the article, Cal Newport talks about how success is only derived from hard work and dedication, not the wrongly romanticized concept of courage overcoming all. This article truly helped me to realize that if I were to improve my running in the track meets, I would need to work very hard; so I did. My opportunity came when my coach offered the suggestion that I run my event, the 400 meter dash, for varsity. Using my newfound confidence in myself and my abilities, I managed to score first place in my heat and shave two seconds off of my previous personal record, putting me at 54.03 seconds on my first race of the season. My Track and Field experiences have shown me that it’s okay to get nervous about challenging things, but it is most certainly not okay to hate on yourself if you fall short of your goals.