15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 3 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 3 of 3)

If you missed part 1 and 2 check them out here and here!

#11:  Be yourself.  This seems pretty straight forward but I’ve seen people change they way they talk or act when they’re with others.  It’s extremely frustrating when dealing with someone with a double-sided personality.  The best thing to do for personal growth and life enjoyment is to just be yourself.  If someone doesn’t like who you are then so be it.  And if you don’t like how someone else is behaving or treating you, you have no reason to feel ashamed to cut them out of your life.  Cut out the negative people in your life and I guarantee your state of happiness will increase tenfold.  When you cut out negative attitudes in your life you’ll find yourself drifting more towards people who are like-minded.  These people are similar to yourself in work ethic, motivation levels, and approach to life.  When you embrace your own individual personality you’ll be happier and more truthful to those around you.  Don’t hide who you are because most likely you’re limiting your friendships and relationships with others.  Be yourself – you have nothing to lose!

#12:  Trail running is my favorite:  I think I’ve known this for awhile but this year I’ve become even more appreciative of the trails.  There’s something about being outside, breathing in fresh clean air, and getting lost in the woods that is mentally refreshing.  I’ve found it easy to lose myself while trail running.  I’m not sure what I’m thinking about during a trail run but when I’m done running I feel instantly less stressed and less anxious.  Perhaps I’ve become more appreciative of the trails this year because at college 90% of my runs were on the roads. There’s something special about the dirt shifting beneath your running shoes and leaping over roots and fallen trees.  I may not be a strong climber (and several of my trail running companions will probably agree with that) but I just love being outside surrounded by trees.  Here’s to hoping both me and whomever if reading this blog right now will find new trails in 2016 and that we’ll follow the trail where ever it might lead us.

#13:  I don’t like gambling.  This year I turned 21.  For my 21st birthday, I opted to visit Atlantic City’s casinos.  The appeal of possibly winning money seemed great!  Two of my guy friends and, unstereotypically, my parents came to AC with me to celebrate.  After dinner and some wine, we went to Tropicana to play the slots.  (I know nothing about table etiquette in casinos so we avoided the tables).  I didn’t win any money that night – I walked out with less money than I walked in with.  Granted, I don’t like spending money anyways so I really didn’t even lose that much money, but I was still unhappy that the casino “stole” my money.  That’s when I knew I would never have a gambling problem.  My brother and I also visited family in California this summer and one night we decided to go to a casino.  My brother is only 18 but we went to a casino on an indian reservation where the legal gambling age is indeed 18.  I don’t even think I spent any money that night because I knew that I would probably walk out with less money than I went in with.  On the other hand, I think my brother gambled $5 and walked out with like $30.  Just my luck.  He gambles for the first time in his life, at age 18, and instantly earns money.  This was the second occasion where I realized I would never have a gambling problem.  Casinos and betting of any sort does not appeal to me.  I can at least say I went to a casino to celebrate being 21 but I probably won’t be returning to the slots any time soon.

#14:  Make new friends and keep good friends:  This year, with so many new adventures, I got to meet a lot of new (and awesome) people.  A lot of new friends came from the running community.  As I’ve mentioned before, people from the running community instantly earn my stamp of approval because 99% of runners have the same work ethic and approach to life.  Runners are also extremely easy to get along with.  (That’s why I swear if I ever get married, I’ll probably be marrying a runner.)  There’s some special bond that runners instantly share whether you’ve ran with them once or twice or countless amounts of time.  I probably sound like a broken record, but I am extremely grateful for all my friends who I’ve met through running – you all have a special place in my life and I look forward to the miles that lie ahead of us.  Likewise, I’ve come to learn this year to keep my good friends.  These are the people that look out for each other, give you advice when you need it, and check up on you at random.  These are the people that made this year survivable because without them I would probably be mentally lost.  These are the people that I was excited to share good news with.  There comes a time in your life when friends you thought would be by your side for eternity are no longer there for you.  Or maybe these people were poor influences on your behaviors and actions.  It’s ok to say goodbye to these people.  You deserve the best life possible – after all, you only get one lifetime.  I’ll say it over and over again, I’m the kind of person that would rather have four quarters than 100 pennies.  Choose your friends wisely.

#15:  Be a goal-setter and a goal-achiever:  Thanks to my Believe journal (which I encourage all (female) runners to buy), I set and achieved all the goals I established for 2015.  I had a life-changing year of running that will be hard to beat in 2016.  After running the Broad Street 10 Miler, completing 73 miles on the Appalachian Trail in three days, and completing my first marathon in under 4 hours, I realize the importance of goal-setting.  It’s easy to say “oh I want to run a 10 mile race” or “I want to go on a hike this summer” or “I want to run a marathon one day”.  By writing it down, making a plan, and then actually doing it you’ll feel an irreplaceable sense of accomplishment the day you reach your goal.  There’s a lot of preparation that goes into achieving a goal but it’s the feeling of accomplishment that occurs in the days following a completed goal that make you realize how powerful goal-setting is.  A lot of people will start 2016 with New Year’s resolutions (me included), but by writing it down and putting it somewhere where you see it every day you’ll having a greater chance of sticking to that resolution.  Find someone to hold you accountable for your actions (or lack there of).  Find a new workout buddy or drag your family members into your goal to keep you in check.  And it’s equally important to remember that you can be flexible with your goals.  If an injury comes along, you can alter your goals and then come back to your ultimate goal when you recover.  Set goals.  Work towards your goal.  And achieve your goal.  Let’s make 2016 another great year of goal setting and achieving!

I hope you learned a lot about yourself and your life this year.  Don’t lose sight of your dreams and aspirations.  Love your friends and family and, most importantly, yourself.

Wishing you a very happy new year with many blessings and good health in 2016.

 

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 2 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 2 of 3)

If you missed Part 1 check it out here!

#6:  Your limits don’t actually exist:  This year alone I ran a 10 minute PR at the Broad Street 10 Miler in May, I hiked/ran the length of New Jersey’s part of the Appalachian Trail in three days (that’s 73 miles in three days), and I finished my first marathon in under my goal time of four hours.  With the exception of being running related, what do all of these things have in common?  Simply put, I pushed past the limits that existed in my mind and reached several goals I set this year.  While hiking/running the Appalachian Trail carrying 20 pounds of supplies on our backs, I had to push myself further than I ever had before.  The first day left me feeling mentally degraded and every muscle in my body hurt.  I hadn’t gone more than four miles ever before with 20 pounds of weight weighing down on my shoulders.  And here I was, somewhere in northern New Jersey in the great outdoors, moving forward for 12+ hours a day with only one goal in mind – get to that New Jersey-Pennsylvania state line.  My dad and I did indeed finish the trek in three days like we had planned but my limits were definitely tested during those three days.  Limits are boundaries you set in your mind.  Limits don’t exist in real life.  You can push yourself further than you can even imagine if you’re willing to ignore pain and ignore that whispering voice in your head telling you to stop.  Don’t let that whispering voice put a limit on what you can and cannot achieve in this world.  Your limits are endless.

#7:  Distance apart is just a number:  This past summer I was fortunate enough to travel to California for the first time ever to spend time with family members.  In my memory, I had never met my Aunt Mary.  The last time we were together was when I was christened as a baby and I definitely don’t have any recollection of that.  So my brother and I headed west for our first trip to the west coast.  We stayed with our cousin who gave us an amazing tour of southern California for the days we spent with her.  I am forever grateful for the time I spent in California with my family.  Since we live on opposite coasts we only get to see my cousins maybe once per year, if that.  My Aunt Mary can no longer fly so I am extremely happy that I got to visit her and listen to her stories about our family.  In the past year or so I’ve come to truly believe in the fact that distance makes the heart grow fonder.  I know this may sound cliche to some people, but I assure you that distance is just a number between two or more people.  Someone you love might live 3,000 miles away in a completely different time zone.  Maybe someone you love only lives 1,000 miles away on the same coast.  Maybe someone you love lives 100 miles away in the same state. Whatever the distance, it’s just a number.  Miles apart shouldn’t put a limit on how much you love someone.  Even though you may only see someone a few times a year, or maybe even once every 5 years, you can still love them.  As I grow up I have become more and more aware of the fact that you don’t have to spend every moment of every day with someone to love them.  I love my Aunt Mary who I have only met two or three times in the past 21 years of my life, but I love her because she loves me just the same.  Don’t let distance or time apart keep you from being close with someone.  It’s just a number, not a space.

#8:  Be happy for others:  It’s easy to fall into the feeling of being jealous of what someone else is doing.  I believe that social media fuels this issue because, as humans, we constantly feel the need to know what other people are doing. When we see what other people are doing we may become envious of their life. We may see pictures of someone on Facebook on an exotic vacation on some luxurious island.  We may see a tweet about someone expressing their love towards their significant other.  Maybe there’s even a filtered picture posted on Instagram of someone celebrating on a Saturday night with their closest friends. Whatever the case may be, I’ve come to the realization that when you see someone you love doing something they love you should be happy for them. Don’t start feeling sorry for yourself and resist FOMO (fear of missing out) as much as you can.  No human being on this planet shares the same life path.  Be happy for your best friend who is chasing after their dreams.  Be joyous for the friend who found out they just got offered a great job.  It’s okay to miss someone you love but don’t feel unhappy when you see them happy.  Share in their happiness, even if it means you have to sacrifice a little bit of time spent with them.

#9:  Don’t compare yourself to others (particularly in the running world):  As a runner, I’ve fallen in and out of the trap of comparing myself to other runners.  It’s easy to compare training schedules and the amount of miles you’re running.  You may compare yourself to other runners in attempt to evaluate your own personal fitness level.  As runners, we might tell ourselves, “well, she ran 50 miles this week and I only ran 40 so she’s obviously a better runner than me” or “he runs 7 minute pace all the time and I usually average 8 minute pace so I can’t keep up with him”.  As a runner who is immersed in the running community, sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in race results and posts about training.  There’s been numerous times this year that I’ve caught myself comparing myself to other runners.  I’ve sometimes questioned my own training routine because of this and second-guessed my ability to be a decent runner. But then one day I came to the realization that it doesn’t matter how similar or different my running routine is to other runners’ routines.  I am my own individual runner and what works for me throughout training might not work for other runners.  Likewise, what works for other runners might not work for me. There’s no reason to compare myself to others.  I am me.  I have my own special body type, my own unique feet, my own well-trained muscles, and my own strong beating heart.  I might not run 50 miles per week or be able to run four 1600m repeats at 6:30 pace – but I can run my far, my fast, and my race. When I run, the only person that I can compare myself to is me because every runner has their own unique journey that eventually leads to the same destination – the finish line.

#10:  Wanderlust hurts:  I am the kind of person that likes to go-go-go.  I don’t like sitting around for hours and wasting time but I’m constantly conflicted when it comes to traveling.  I want to go places, I want to explore the world, and I know that there’s so much to see on our planet.  More consistently in this year than any year in the past, I’ve been plagued by wanderlust.  I have never wanted to travel as badly as I do until this year.  I yearn for endless adventures but then reality crashes down on me.  I need money to travel and do fun things.  I need a job that pays well enough to go on these adventures but will also give me time off to explore for a week straight.  The picturesque places I see of mountains and lakes and open trails is calling out to me and I know deep in my heart that I can’t go to these places right now.  And that hurts.  Wanderlust seriously makes my heart ache.  When people ask me what I’m going to do with my life after I graduate undergrad I commonly answer with this sentence: “I have no idea, but maybe I’ll just go on a really long hike and never come back”.  I know this is unrealistic and maybe even me trying to avoid becoming an adult in the job world but I seriously just want to go explore.  I want to see beautiful places and meet super cool, cultured people that can share in my love for breathing in fresh air in the wilderness.  I probably sound like some crazy female bushmen or a weird tree-hugger right now but it’s the truth.  Maybe one day in the near future I’ll get to explore endlessly but for now wanderlust will stir in my heart as I await a new adventure.  After all, adventure awaits.

To be continued…

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

Simply put, 2015 was a year of limit testing, adventure finding, friendship making, friendship keeping, mileage logging, destination seeking, stress managing, misty-eye limiting, knowledge learning, wisdom gaining, belief persevering, goal setting, goal reaching, and love enduring.

In the last few weeks of 2015, I will be writing three separate blog posts that total fifteen (of the many) things I learned in the past 365 days (I don’t want to bore you with an extremely long list of 15 things; therefore, I’ll break it into groups of five!).  Here’s part 1 of 3 – let’s jump right in!

#1:  Don’t be afraid to fight for something you think you deserve:  I learned this in the beginning of this past fall semester.  I had already secured an internship in Delaware over the summer and was merely one step away from having it approved by my university.  To my surprise (and to the entire exercise science department’s surprise), I was not permitted to do an internship in the state of Delaware.  Instantly, an overwhelming amount of stress weighed down on my shoulders.  Upon being informed of this by the registrar’s office, I met with my advisor and our department chairperson.  They were equally baffled by this new “rule” that nobody had been informed of.  I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with the dean of the college of science and technology.  He informed me of this new “rule” which had not been formally announced to the rest of the university yet.  I was basically being punished for being a prepared and responsible student which I didn’t find to be very fair.  I exhausted every option I could possibly get my hands into.  My professors allowed me to exhaust every option even though they probably knew it was a lost cause.  I wasn’t about to give up on something I had earned.  I needed this internship in order to graduate.  In the end, even though I had to find a new internship because my university refused to implement a grandfather clause for me and a few of my fellow classmates, I learned that sometimes things in life are going to be unfair. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and fight for something you worked hard for.

#2:  Trust God.  He has a plan for you:  When things don’t work out the way you want them to or detours re-route your life plan, trust God.  Things may seem unfair in the present moment.  You probably ask yourself over and over again, “why me?  Why is this happening to me?”.  In the past year there have been many detours that have left me feeling uneasy, stressed, and overwhelmed.  The doubts and fears in my mind played on repeat for weeks on end.  But then, things got better.  The things I was worried about worked out on their own.  Yes, I had to find a new internship but maybe this is where I was supposed to intern all along.  Yes, my housing plans for the fall semester got screwed over but perhaps it made me a better person for learning how to deal with difficult situations.  Yes, one of my best friends moved away but maybe God did this to prove that there is no distance apart that limits the bond between two friends.  Yes, my dad quit his job to pursue opening a small business but maybe this was God’s way of bringing a new purpose and new friendships into our lives.  In life, there will always be obstacles that will set you back.  Don’t let them keep you from moving forward.  No matter how stressful it may seem in the present moment, things will get better.  God has a plan and I’ve learned to trust His plan because there’s a bigger picture in life than what we’re seeing right in front of us.  If it’s not meant to be, it’s simply not meant to be.  Likewise, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.  Trust God.  He knows what He’s doing.

#3:  Don’t be afraid to try new things:  I’ve always been the kind of person that is 100% content with staying within my comfort zone.  I know what I like and what I don’t like.  I will use the same things over and over again if they work they way I need them to work.  But this year I made decisions that broke some of my norms.  One of the changes I made (which took a lot of persuasion from others and personal courage) is that I decided to switch to wearing Altras when running.  For my entire 7 years of running, I’ve always worn Asics.  Every pair of running shoes that I ever trained in were Asics.  I believed in Asics because I never dealt with injuries wearing these shoes and because I knew the exact tread and shoe model I needed for training purposes.  After talking to a few running friends who also made the transition to Altras, I talked myself into trying a pair for myself.  My dad, as a running/biking store owner, switched me into Altra Torins and I’m happy to say that I’ll probably never wear another brand of running shoes ever again.  My toes have space to move around, my feet lay more naturally in the shoe, and my running form has probably become more efficient (I say “probably” because I’ve never actually analyzed myself running so I don’t know what “efficient” and “unefficient” running actually looks like).  There’s no way I’ll ever switch back to Asics!  This was a huge step for me because I always avoid stepping outside my comfort zone.  Now, Altras are my new comfort zone.  #EmbracetheSpace

#4: Hard work will pay off in the long run:  I’m not just saying this because I’m a runner and I appreciate the pun, but to everyone who has ever worked hard to achieve their goals and aspirations.  For the past 17 years of my life, I’ve been attending school (this includes two years of pre-school because I guess one year wasn’t enough for me to learn how to count to 10).  Just a few weeks ago I officially finished all my college classes required to earn my Bachelor’s degree.  The only requirement I have left to complete is my internship which I will be completing in the spring.  I received my semester grades just last night and I couldn’t be happier with them!  I earned four A’s, one A-, and one B+.  For a semester of stress, chaos, six classes (5 of which were core classes for my major), and 18 credits I was ecstatic about the result of hours upon hours at the library and re-reading over and over again lecture notes.  Honestly, I expected maybe one or two A’s and the rest of my grades to be B’s. I never expected such a good outcome for a semester of hard work.  (And I apologize to anyone who thinks I’m bragging but I worked hard for 17 years of my life so I think I deserve to brag a little). But this just proves that when you put every ounce of energy into something you want so badly to achieve that you’ll reach your desired outcome.  I put 17 years of education into earning the ever-so-desired college degree and I am now only one internship away from having that degree.  If you want something so badly that you’re willing to put continuous effort into it, I promise that’ll it will pay off in the long run.  No pun intended.

#5:  Make your own path in life:  There are no written rules that require you to start at a four-year college or university.  There are no written rules that require you to stay at one college for your entire secondary education.  There aren’t even written rules that say you HAVE to go to college.  I will happily say that I started my college education at a community college.  All my high school friends went off to their respective 4-year colleges and I stayed home.  I don’t regret this decision one bit because I was able to figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life, I found a part-time job and made some money, and I met a few of my closest friends who will be there for me through all the ups and downs of life (and who still today are my best friends).  Actually, these are the friends that inspired me to make my own path in life.  They might not even realize how much they’ve influenced my life but they have.  These people have taught me that it’s okay to take the path less traveled.  These people have taught me that you have to pursue that dream job you’ve always aspired to have or to cross that item off of a life bucket list.  After realizing that I can indeed follow my own path, I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not be attending graduate school after I earn my Bachelor’s degree.  People might view this negatively because young people these days are expected to get their Master’s degree to make themselves “more appealing” to employers.  Yes, I realize that this is a potential benefit of attending grad school but I feel at this moment in my life that I have other things to achieve and pursue than a Master’s degree.  I feel that the classroom limits how much you can learn and I’m excited to learn things in an applied setting.  This may be breaking the norm that society has created but there is a huge world out there that needs to be explored and fixed and I don’t feel that I can explore nor fix this world sitting in a classroom.  It’s all too common for people to fall into the “supposed-to” trap.  They might say “well now I’m supposed to find a job” or “now I’m supposed to get married” or “now I’m supposed to have kids”.  There is no “supposed to” for any of these things. I know plenty of people who haven’t followed such norms and these people are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met!  You don’t have to follow the norm of society.  Don’t let this crazy world determine what comes next in life just because “everyone else is doing it this way” – make your own path!

To be continued…