Six years ago today, I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. At the time, that was the biggest thing I had accomplished that I actually wanted to do. People ask me why I did it, and the totally honest answer is I was extremely bored. I felt like my undergraduate education was a waste of time (I did not yet know about naturopathic medicine, I didn’t have an end goal). There was a group at my college that trained with one of our professors, and like everything I have ever really wanted, I decided I would do it and that was that, no question. I had never even run a 5K race. The four months of training was a really enjoyable challenge, pushing myself to new limits was really satisfying. Except I said I’d never do it again, but a year and a half later I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in DC, which I trained for largely by myself. This all sounds pretty crazy looking back on it!
I really should be studying neuroscience right now, but this has been such a huge day of reflection for me I just wanted to write about it. I feel like finishing my first marathon was an event that jumpstarted my drive to go after what I really want. I think it was the best thing I could have done for myself at the time, and I was only 20 years old! When I told my brother I was going to do do it, he laughed at me. I wasn’t bothered by this, I was confused. I wondered why he doubted me, because I knew I’d do it. I didn’t have any doubt, and I enjoyed the training.
I correlate this all with starting school at Bastyr. I have always known with absolute certainty since I found out about naturopathic medicine that this is absolutely what I wanted to do; I have never doubted that I wanted it for an instant. I had a really rough time adjusting to the program because I was fighting against my own beliefs that I could do it even though I was sure I wanted it. I was going to be a social worker! What am I doing here? I want this, but can I do a mental medical school marathon the same way I can do a physical marathon? Pushing past my own self imposed limits has been so hugely satisfying. Six years ago feels like an eternity because I have grown so much. At the end of my first year at Bastyr I felt drastically different than when I started, and now I’m nearing the end of my second year and I feel drastically different all over again. I am truly enjoying my time at school here, pushing myself really hard and the more I learn to stop resisting the process, the more and more I enjoy it. I am happier than I have ever been and I wouldn’t trade all the painful growth of first year for anything now.
When I compared myself to some of my classmates who did not struggle so much through first year, I realized they were not doubting their ability to succeed. I would sit down to take a test and panic. I learned the hard way that no matter how well you know the material, if you’re in a panicked state, it’s impossible to even read the question correctly. I started changing all my negative self talk into positive affirmations, and things turned around immensely. Now, at the end of second year, I not only have absolute certainty that I want this, I have absolute certainty that I can do really well with it while in school and beyond.