On Progress, perfection, and colored corn starch

Ever since I can remember I've been a perfectionist.

I was the kind of girl who turned over monopoly boards in protest when I lost a game, who spent hours practicing music instead of playing outside. I was the girl who beat her head against a wall when I couldn't figure out a math problem the first time, or worse, when I had to ask for help.

If it came easy, I excelled in it. Everything else fell to the wayside.

And I'm sad to say I've lived most of my life like that. It's put me into a nasty all-or-nothing cycle.. With diet, and especially with exercise, this has been my method. Blew it on that pizza? Well the rest of the day is ruined so why not splurge and eat what I want.  Couldn't make it to the gym today? Well, might as well eat the cookie.

The concept of progress was absolutely foreign to me. I either had it or I didn't. I either excelled, or failed. There was no in between, no leeway.

No grace.

Ten weeks ago I decided to run my first 5K, and it has tested me in every way possible, from the training to the finish line. There were days where I'd run fast and smooth and other days where my joints felt like they were grinding sand paper. There were days where my heart just wasn't into it and where I had to will myself every ground-pounding-step.

Two days before the race I almost quit, thinking that I hadn't trained enough to run the whole thing. and it took every last ounce of conviction not to.

The day of the race I was feeling particularly anxious and scared. What if I failed? What if I had to walk? What if I couldn't complete this? My heart felt like it would beat right out of my chest. I couldn't run the race like this, bound up and worried.

So, just before the start line I did something I'd never done in all my life. I gave myself permission to fail. I wanted to run the whole thing, I did. But if I didn't, I would be okay with that too.

Progress over perfection.

With each pound into the pavement I began to feel that old lie shatter, the one that told me I had to be perfect, that I was only what I accomplished. And as I reached the finish line and crossed it, congratulating total strangers and being doused with colored corn starch, my heart found that truth it'd been searching for.

That I am so much more.


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