Sticks and stones (and words) can break my bones

It is amazing how one person can make such a difference to how you ‘see’ yourself and what you believe you can accomplish. That person can either build you up or break you down – if you allow them to.

When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to write, to tell stories, to find out and share information. The path I landed up taking was into librarianship and so I found myself surrounded by books and information, unfortunately not written by me. But I found happiness.

In 2002, I started working in a financial institution where one of my tasks was to write a monthly report. From day one, I struggled. I was not used to working with Word and I was constantly beaten down by my manager. Even after attending a course on report writing, I was still not getting it right and up to ‘her’ standards.

I still remember her words to me, “I made a mistake in hiring you because I thought you could write. But you can’t. Perhaps you should just focus on research instead.”  Ironically, this is what I did. Fast forward 10 years and through friends who believed in me, I started a blog. I’ve loved every single minute of it. The feedback is not so much about my writing skills, but about what I’ve been writing about.

No one criticizes the occasional spelling mistake. No one tells me I don’t know how to use styles properly. I don’t get red pen scratches all over my posts. The comments and feedback are always positive and always telling me how my posts have hit a mark or touched people in a certain way.

That’s powerful and humbling at the same time.

I was chatting to a friend recently and he was expressing concern that in life, majority of people can not articulate what the want to do. People just don’t know. He went on to explain that it’s not about what ‘job’ you want to do as much as a simple ‘thing’ you want to accomplish in life. It’s up to each one of us to know what that ‘thing’ is.

It’s then that it hit me. I know what I’ve been enjoying in the last couple of months. I know what has made me happy, what has overtaken my time and fuels my thoughts all day long. I know what I want to do.

I want to write…

Try again. If that fails, try again.

I did not have the best of week’s last week. Having received the news from my running coach that I had not followed my training schedule correctly and had therefore not improved as he would’ve liked sent me into a depressed spiral where I questioned my running and considered quitting.

I got blasted by my coach for even having thoughts of quitting. He said to me: Get your mind right!

Ironically, this is where I am lacking in “strength”. I am disciplined enough to train every day. I have even changed my diet, cutting out wheat and red meats. I drink enough water and have ensured I wear all the running gadgets one can buy. All the boxes are ticked. But getting up when I have fallen down is so difficult.

Previously, when it came to motivating myself and getting my head space right, I would sit quietly and repeat positive statements to myself. I would envisage myself running and completing races. I would fill my time with reading motivational running books. It would always be a very private and personal journey.

But there’s something I realised a few months ago when I started my blogging. When it comes to believing in my abilities, nothing helps me do that more than realising that others believe in me. In fact, spending time with people that build me up is exactly what I spent the week doing.

Dinner with a best friend (who meticulously read back to me every sentence from my coach’s email and analysed each comment with a fine tooth comb and turned each sentence into a positive statement – Marci, you mean the world to me), to the awesome run with an inspirational friend from Cape Town (Rogeema, you are too awesome for words) and an Iron Man (Morne) who surprised me with a visit, right down to the motivational tweets and caring comments on my blog telling me that quitting is not an option and that they believed in me.

There’s nothing that touched my heart more than realising that other people are so willing to share in my running pains and get me through the bad times.

I’m back up. I’m running.

Dear coach, let’s start again. I’m ready.