Thursday, January 9, 2014
A Chat With My High School Self
I came across these pictures while looking through a box of old photographs the other day, and I laughed right out loud. Back in the 10th grade, I was bored with running the mile in track and believing myself to be more an endurance runner than a sprinter, I decided (in all my youthful running wisdom) that the 300 meter hurdles were the answer. (It's okay, you can laugh too.)
I had never run hurdles in my life... I didn't even know if I could run and jump! And the kind, well-meaning football coach who also coached track and cross country wasn't quite sure what to do with me but to say okay and train me to run hurdles. So when the first practice rolled around and I finally got up the nerve to actually jump over one of those things, I fell. I fell hard and slid. On pavement. I had what looked like a melted jolly rancher on my hand for weeks, two skinned knees and a new found fear when I approached a hurdle.
But I did not give up. No sir. There was probably a high school boy who would be impressed by my hurdle jumping skills if I just stuck with it (and I'm sure he was after looking at that stellar form) and so Coach Newby and I kept training. And while my form never really improved much and I still spent way too much time in the air, I started to catch up to some of the other girls on our track team who ran hurdles. Coach Newby even suggested I start running the 100 meter hurdles (those are higher and closer together), and I finally agreed to train for those as well (while shaking in my running shoes).
The day before I was to run both the 300 meter and 100 meter hurdles in a meet, I went for a slow jog around my neighborhood because my legs were so sore. And it wasn't jumping hurdles that put me on the ground, but a simple misstep off the curb. I sprained my right ankle badly and was out for the rest of the season. The next year I attended one track practice before deciding (as was my way back then) that swim team was more my thing (I had never ever ever attempted to swim fast any distance, any event... ever).
But now as I look at that picture and remember the high school girl who tried everything while never really being good at any of it and as I remember the things she used to worry about, I wish I could tell her some things. I wish I could say, "You are capable of so much more than you realize. In fact, you are going to do things you haven't even considered yet. You are going to run over 20 marathons and get much faster than you are now. You are going to run 50 miles and actually enjoy it. You are going to marry an amazing man. You are going to have a daughter. You are going to be comfortable in your own skin one day - yes, even with these legs you think are fat."
And then when my high school self looked at my 34 year old self in disbelief and shook her head, I would nod and say again, "Yes, it's true. You are capable of so much more than you realize."
In high school and even college, I was chasing after something more while never really believing I'd actually catch it, and I wish wish wish I could just tell that girl, "You are going to catch it ALL and then keep going!" I wish I could tell her to have faith, REAL faith, because God, as He has promised, will come through in ways that far surpass her hopes and imagination.
But... at the end of the day, all I can do is look at that picture and smile at my high school self. I can try to take whatever wisdom my 34 years have granted me and continue to grow. I can try to be someone my 64 year old self will like, and I can try to impart what little I know to my daughter so maybe she'll be braver and stronger than I was. This little chat I'd have with myself is not to say I'm some sort of amazing creature now. No, there are many who have and will do so much more than anything I've mentioned here.
I guess the point is to remember that the limits we place on ourselves don't have to stick, to take a look at who we are now and realize it's not the end of the road. And maybe my high school self could tell me a thing or two as well. Maybe she'd look at her 34 year old self and say, "Don't be afraid to take on those hurdles. Even if you think you might fall and even if your form is way off, jump anyway."