She’s a runner.
No, not the athletic kind. Far from it, actually. But a runner in the hypothetical sense.
A runner from problems. From conflicts. From the unknown. From confrontation. From hurt. From anything big and dressed in scary clothes.
Why? Because it’s easier.
So she thought.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with things being perfect.
I always had to have an A for every subject on every report card growing up. I VIVIDLY remember being in 7th grade history and being on the verge of a “B” on my report card. I was worried sick for weeks just thinking about it. I just “couldn’t handle” having a B.
Really, I would have lived to tell the tale all the same, but it felt impossible to cope with. So, I did everything I could do to make sure I didn’t have a B on that report card.
Senior year, I thought about running cross country to spend more time with my friends, but I knew I was a terrible runner. Like really, really, really slow. I also knew I wasn’t joining the team to win any medals, I just wanted to be with my friends and have fun.
But the thought of finishing a race last was paralyzing. I could barely stand the thought of doing something that I wasn’t great at….but doing something I was bad at? That was a foreign concept I absolutely didn’t plan on getting comfortable with.
So I went as a spectator instead. Safely saving myself the embarrassment of failing.
Because, naturally, when things start getting a little dicey, it’s time to bail, right?
Or when it starts getting time to make tough decisions or take a leap of faith or put yourself out there to possibly be rejected. When you’re paralyzed by the idea of failure, it seems easier to run away than to attempt something you might publicly fail at.
But as a perfectionist who also experienced a wide array of emotions, life got even more confusing.
Somehow crying in public, facing failure head on, admitting I can’t do it on my own, talking about my problems, verbalizing my fears…..all of these things felt like accepting defeat and admitting I wasn’t perfect for everyone to see.
I felt all of these emotions so strongly, but I couldn’t figure out how to deal with them without looking like I couldn’t handle everything on my own. So, instead of dealing with problems or emotions or conflicts, I ran.
Ironically, that’s how I ended up in Nashville.
After a senior year full of different hurts and, what I perceived as failures, I was ready to get as far away as I could. If I could just run far enough and fast enough and long enough, eventually the problems would dissipate and I wouldn’t have to deal with them.
Wrong. That’s not how it works. That’s not how it will ever work. But sometimes, it feels like it works.
It feels like if you can just get far enough away you can start over without dealing with any old problems or hurts.
But really, those problems just pile up for you to deal with later.
As I was talking to one of my oldest friends about everything going on in life from friendships to relationships to work to grad school to everything in between, he asked me what I was going to do.
I just stared blankly at him and didn’t give much of an answer.
He looked at me with a smirk and said, “You’re going to wait until you find out where you’re going to grad school to make any decisions aren’t you?”
I sheepishly replied, “That was kinda my plan. That way I’ll know where I’m running to.”
He chuckled because he knows me well. But I think we both knew that wasn’t my best plan.
I’m a runner. I’ve always been a runner.
I hate confrontation. I hate disappointment. I hate failure. I hate conflict. And I hate dealing with anything that doesn’t look like a big package of success wrapped nicely with happiness and perfection.
So I run from it.
But I’ve realized recently that eventually, you can’t run anymore. One day, you’ll run out of places to run to. And on that day, you’ll have to sit down and deal with all of the hurt, disappointment, conflict, and failures you’ve been running from.
And that day will hurt. Man, it will hurt like crazy. And you might feel like the biggest failure.
But that day brings with it new life. It brings the freedom to apply to that dream job you were too scared to go after. Or the grad school you didn’t think you were good enough for. Or the move you were too scared to make.
It brings the freedom for you to put yourself out there and deal with the outcome without feeling like you have to run away before you can get hurt.
And after you let go of the hurt, you have room in your luggage to refill that space with happiness, success, healed relationships, hopes, dreams, and a future you don’t want to escape from.
Life is hard. Failures are inevitable. But running is a choice. And its a choice that’s labors have proved unfruitful.