What Am I So Afraid Of?

The big bad wolf? Virginia Woolf?

Kind of sad, but I edit myself constantly as I decide how to present myself to others. No, not “kind of sad.” Actually sad.

I think a large part of who people think I am is wrong because when anyone gets to know me, they tell me how surprising I am, including my own therapist. The last time I saw her, we sat down and she joked, “I’m just going to get settled here with my box of popcorn, because I know I’m about to be entertained.”

I guess I am afraid I won’t be liked.

I won’t be loved.

I am afraid that I don’t really know who I am.

Maybe I am so detached from being able to be myself that I don’t know who I am.

Depression and anxiety make this even worse, of course, or perhaps inform it. Or maybe I’ve always had these mood problems along for the ride, and they are as ingrained in my persona as the part of me that loves glitter (even though it’s tacky) and the part of me that relates to the world via song lyrics rather than actual names of feelings.

I’ve been running a lot lately. Even if I don’t know who I am, I have a new persona of runner.

Last week, I ran 17+ miles across 3 different runs. This week, I am up to 12+ miles across 2 runs, but I took a day off yesterday because I read about new runners chasing that runner’s high and getting injured. I am only competing against myself, not even really training for anything, and I feel so good about having running in my life right now. I may suck at everything else, but dammit, I am good at running. I can’t afford to lose it.

Because I run right after work and start and end at my office, I often run into colleagues as I get on the elevator. It’s led to some good connections and conversations. One lady can’t believe I used to hate running as much as she does. She REALLY hates running. Another lady might run with me (and she wants us to sing together! This is awesome!). A man said I’ve inspired him to work out (sweet!), and another tells me he’s going swimming so now I ask him if he’s going swimming when I see him (he is). One man added me as a friend on FitBit and after an awkward week or so passed, I explained to him that I wasn’t going to accept his request because he has more steps per day than I do, and I like being in first place on my FitBit dashboard. Luckily he was not offended.

One man asked me what I was training for, and when I said, nothing, I just compete against myself, he said, “Geez, are you just that stressed out?”

Maybe, wise man. Maybe so.

Running is meditative for me. I don’t listen to music as I run, mostly because I like the ambient sounds around me and also because I’m on campus, I don’t want to block out the sounds of cars or other things I should avoid hitting or being hit by. I listen to the birds in the trees, someone who practices the trumpet time-to-time along my route (through the trees — I can’t see this person), and whatever else. I work on my musical compositions in my mind and also sort of zone out. There are some regulars on my running path, so it feels like a community. I’m trying to find others to run with right now as the days are getting shorter. I want sign up for a trail run the Saturday after Thanksgiving. (This one.) I can’t decide if I should do the 10K or the half marathon. Josef, always cautious — which is good — says I should stick to the 10K, but there is something in my mind that wants to go for the half. The first 3 or so miles are difficult, but then it’s game on and I feel like I could actually run forever.

I find it amusing that I like running so much given how much I really hated it in the past. I’m often thinking, who is this person who likes running? Even if I don’t know who I really am, then I guess I can just as easily be a runner, right? I will feel tired, but happy and accomplished (feeling words, friends).

Hmm. How much is that race?

(Be right back. Talk amongst yourselves.)

Okay, I just signed up for my first half marathon.

Eek.

It’s okay, I got this. It’s in a month.

Eek!

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