Eyes on the prize

To expand a little bit on my post about a busy spring season, the last 6 months of my life were without a doubt the absolute hardest I’ve been through. In January, my best friend moved away for the Army. I was in 24 credits of college classes, working (4am wake up call), serving an internship, training 6x per week at a gym 40 minutes away, looking for a new career, and blogging— all while trying to keep my food prepped and other adult things like keeping my house and clothes clean and my car running. Additionally, my roommate of the last few years moved out and my gastrointestinal issues worsened, leading to nights in the ER, afternoons in bed and SO many doctors appointments. Needless to say, sleep fell to the bottom of my priority list.

I was pushing my limits and pounding espresso shots like today was the last day of my life. And my loved one assured me on several occasions that that outcome was only slightly farfetched with how I was treating my body and running myself into the ground. I distinctly remember, and can now laugh, when I think about how one evening I went to flush the toilet and it broke. I immediately sank to my knees in tears because this was clearly the absolute end of the world. Or, I was exhausted and on my last strand of patience.

Now I’m not looking for pity, everything on my plate either needed to be there or I wanted it there. My point in spelling it all out specifically is to demonstrate that the plate was in fact full, too full. People would tell me I needed more rest and in my head all I could think is “when?!”

But look! I’m here and I survived and frankly, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long, long time. I hope you never let your plate get so full that you sob when an appliance breaks, but this experience was valuable to me for a few reasons.

I achieved what I set out for: I taught myself that with a diligent work ethic and concentrated efforts toward specific goals, I can do just about anything.

I utilized my support system: my friends, family and training partners unprompted, frequently reminded me that they were proud of me, that this would all pay off, and that they were here for an ear or anything I needed.

I included “balance” in my schedule: training is a relief for me, amongst the craziness every single day, I couldn’t wait to get to the gym. And on rest days it was meal prepping or cooking dinner; finding something that brings me joy without getting too off track.

I learned about priorities and efficiency: This was a “learn to swim or sink” kind of lesson, though it worked just the same. I discovered by cleaning the house while breakfast was cooking, I could maximize my time. I would study in the doctor’s office, track every task and appointment in my mobile calendar, and prep my gym bag the night before as not to forget my sneakers in a rush. I wish I would’ve thoughtfully considered a few of these strategies initially, rather than discover them the hard way as I went along.

I may have learned these concepts in a less than ideal way, but I will carry them forward and am grateful for their lessons and the empowerment the experience brought me. By putting these tools in my back pocket, I am well-equipped for any challenge life throws me. In the midst of your most difficult periods, try to remember it does end and things will get better. Stay focused, stay consistent and remind yourself often (and nicely) what it is you’re working toward.