I just ran 7.5k, the furthest I have ever run, and I am so proud of myself.
In early 2013 I realised that everyone in my social group was exercising more than me and I was at risk of being the person that slowed us all down as we walked to the pub. I took up running using the NHS Couch To 5k plan (thanks R.O. for the recommendation!), and found my drinking alone for stress dropped – at the time I was writing up my PhD and not in a good place, so this was a welcome surprise. In early 2014 I had to give up drinking entirely for six months after I was an arsehole to a friend whilst drunk, again from stress – I can start again on August 9th. Running in London is harder than in Cambridge because my daily commute soaks up a lot of time, but I manage an average of one run a week. I might wish for more, but I genuinely can’t given my time constraints, so one run, one yoga session, and some exercise before bed is all I can do.
Owen Lean (public persona: full name) assured me that after several months of not drinking, I’d be bouncing out of bed and feeling like I could take on the world. That hasn’t really happened any more than it usually does, but I am glad to have made it so far. As recently as five years ago I was using alcohol as my sole coping mechanism, and it was not healthy.
I am glad I am no longer that person; I am glad to be out of that darkness. I am glad that now, when I am stressed or sad or worried about where my life is going, I can get out of my nice bed and RUN and feel my body move and listen to the birds sing. I still introspect, life can still be stressful, but now it’s constructive – I’m getting healthier and stronger and I’m not feeling disconnected from the world.
I started my PhD in some sense to repair myself after undergraduate, and I took the entire first year of my PhD to do that – trying to work, but first of all making sure my self-identity was solid and that I was healthy. It worked – the parts of myself I was working on then are now rock solid, and I finished my PhD at the same time as my cohort. After last year, I find I need to repair myself again, and this is affecting a small host of things – I need to replace this laptop, HeartOfKong, since it is due to die soon, and I am torn between a tiny laptop to fit in my bag so I can write my novel on the Tube, or a nice sensible-sized one for general use. If I remember that this is a year I need to be certain that I am repairing myself, it is obvious: I need a nice laptop for general use that will not make me stressed out and guilty every day I commute to work and don’t manage to write.
So I’m proud of myself for running 7.5k today when in January 2013 I couldn’t run three minutes. I’m proud of myself for not having drunk since February 2014, even if the reason is not a pleasant one. I’m proud of myself for shedding the darkness I had, for learning academia is not for me and that I will never, ever economise on improv ever again, no matter what. I am trying my hardest to learn the right lessons from each point, and you know what? I’m doing damn good. And I’m anticipating that whatever repairs I make to myself this year will become permanent, and I am looking forward to getting stronger still.
I couldn’t have climbed back this high without my friends around me, too many people to name, and without a lot of good fortune. That’s something I’m trying to repair this year, actually, after Jet Eveleth’s clowning classes drew my attention to it: trusting and giving, and trusting and taking, and trusting that taking is okay. Never seeing things in terms of trade.