Monday, December 09, 2013
I have been asking myself that question alot lately. Why do I / did I push myself so hard that it has come down to this? What drove me? I have given it alot of thought and I think I have come up with an answer and it is not a comfortable one but one that I think people will relate to. I am willing to be vulnerable.
The vast majority of my life growing up has always been living on the fringe. I was never one of those kids that people wanted to hang out with much less be seen with. Always picked last in gym class, and couldn't hardly buy a girls interest much less a date until about my last year in high school. Life as the fat kid was not easy. Gym class was public humiliation dished out in hard to swallow doses and then there were the whispers in the hallway between classes.
Any sort of group sport was not for me no matter how much my parents tried to integrate me be it Little league, Football, or soccer. I continually sought solitude because the world was a cruel place and I didn't have the heart to compete because competition exposes weakness. There can only be one winner, I didn't want to face the feeling of rejection by being made to sit on the bench because I wasn't good enough, or too heavy, or because the game fell on a day that ends in y. Much of the time playing in leagues, that is exactly what I was... a bench warmer.
I preferred things that I could play by my own rules and do it my way such as hunting or fishing... and I got good at it too. It was my skill, my cunning, my dedication to get out there that brought success and the pictures proved it. Even if people thought I was a dork, they HAD to respect the end result... you can't argue with the picture of a big fish or buck that I got when everyone else got skunked. It forced even the most ardent critic to give me the nod.
That is what drives me... I love solitary sports where it is me against me. I am not competing against anyone, not being compared or judged, I'm just out there doing my best and that's good enough and I get the medal to prove it. Some folks on here think I'm really outgoing and brave when, if they met me, may find that I am a much different person. I'm (fairly) quiet, I like solitude, and I tend to think deeply into things. Then what makes me weird is that if I'm in the right environment, I can go to the opposite extreme where I want to be the party animal. Just call me odd.
This has been a strange epiphany for me because as a morbidly obese individual, I lived my life in such a way that I avoided anything that would challenge me. I avoided it because when you do something challenging, it will REVEAL where you are really at and most of us don't have a tolerance for being exposed.
Don't think so? Then why is it that the number one fear of someone training for their first race is almost always finishing last? It is the fear of being judged, compared, or being thought of as weak or incapable. How about climbing stairs? I avoided them because it revealed both to me and the rest of the world how bad off I was and how embarrassing it is to have people see you wheezing and clutching the railing at the top as the more fit people just skip on by you.
So we set our limits.
I don't run..period. I wont do this or that.. I wont _______.
So we live in our sheltered world with comfortable limits and continue to appear to the rest of the world as having it together as long as we can sustain the illusion. Don't rock the boat.
Sometimes I may have been a little extreme in my approach but it can be hard to put a cap on something that brings such strength and affirmation. While I may be sidelined from running for now, I look back at the things I have done and it tells me that the guy that lives inside me, the real Robert, is strong, capable, determined, and never gives up.
Running is just one of the expressions of that character not the character itself. There are other outlets and venues through which I can challenge myself.
I guess I write this because this is me thinking out loud and it helps define what is going on inside.
Maybe all of this is because that, at my core, I am still that scared little boy at school who needs to do big things to prove to himself on a regular basis that he isn't what his demons say he is. Maybe it is a mid life thing coupled with the fact that I have shaken off the chains of slavery to my obesity and because I have lived life on my knees for so long that standing upright feels pretty good, not quite ready to take a seat just yet.
Whatever the reason, I love what I do. It changed me, hopefully for the better. It makes me strong, proves to myself that I have what it takes to make it. Actually, I don't have to say a word, my results speak loud. Maybe its a little male ego mixed in for good measure, a splash of testosterone driven madness.
Maybe its a little of all of it together.
This is who I am and what drives me.