They tell you when you’re little, you can be anything you want to be. Over and over again, trying to sink that message into you. And after enough times hearing it or hearing it from the right special person, with just the right amount of conviction, I suppose you eventually start to believe it.
For whichever reason it was for me, I know I swallowed it whole and I immediately decided I should be a cat (which sounds alarmingly insane until you find out I was only 4). That little me spent the next month praying every night for God to turn me into a cat. Morning after morning came with me still as a human, and I sadly came to discover what I think most of us eventually do in our own time… you can’t actually be anything you want to be so much as anything you were meant to be.
I will never be a runway model, a rocket scientist or a race car driver. It’s just not in me. I don’t have the height, attention span or thrill seeking gene to make any of those things so. And no matter how much I try to be any of those things, I’m just not going to be. I’m not meant to be. So the ever-looming question lies ahead… what am I meant to be??
I think I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to figure that out and the closer I got to finding out, the more it changed before me. Because the person you’re meant to be isn’t carved into stone like a destination on a map. It’s more like a flagship ahead to steer you in the right direction. Particularly when the course changes.
Even knowing that, I thought I’d found the answer a few years ago. I had my eureka… THIS WAS IT moment!! I held the answer in my hands, shaking it triumphantly with glee. So absolutely positive and sure I was, I completely stopped my search. Ended my quest to Become. And with it, I forgot so many lessons I had learned along the way to finding that pretty little answer I held cupped in my hands. So when the winds shifted and took me on a new, unchartered course, I lost my way and worse yet, I lost so much of me. Could I ever find me again? I honestly wasn’t sure I could.
I started running again recently, which might surprise you to find out, was incredibly hard to convince myself to do again. I knew I couldn’t run as fast or as long as I had so many times before, and I felt the ghosts of who I used to be haunting me. Scorning me for giving up something I had loved so much before. Mocking me for thinking I could again. Telling me all of that was gone. That running was a part of me I had lost for good and it kept me from trying again for far too long.
But I remembered the other day, while I running with my dog, one of the best lessons I think I’ve ever learned in my lifetime. I remembered that the biggest blessing to losing yourself is that you can take the pieces you loved before to rebuild the person you are supposed to be. And as I ran, I thought about what a wonderful gift that actually was, leaving behind the parts you hated about yourself and only taking the things you wanted to take forward from here.
How much lighter is the load when you decide to do that? What a freeing thought… I don’t have to be the runner I was! I was never going to be an Olympic athlete, and anyways it was never about becoming a runner. It was who I became when I ran. It connected me to the passion deep inside me and the words to express it. That’s why running changed my life before… because it changed me.
So I bought some fresh kicks and I pound the dirt more often than I have in a long time. Trying to find my legs. Trying to find my words. Both come harder than they used to but I cut myself some slack… I’m out of shape. But I’m out there and I know if I keep going, they’ll both get stronger and in time, that strength will move me closer to the person I’m meant to be. And for the first time in a long time, I’m excited to meet her.