Let’s go for the scandalous views based on the title alone, shall we?
2020 started with all the hope, passion, optimism, and fervor that all years do. Quickly, I emerged from my bubble wrap and found literally ALL the chinks in my armor at once.
In the most general sense possible, things that I thought I had nailed, I hadn’t. Things I thought I was good at, I wasn’t. The transition from hedonism to structure was rough, and the vestiges of almost a month off left me in a weird state. I was without my edge, at a disadvantage, and just feeling screwed. A rude awakening from 26 days of leisure, absolutely and for sure.
Let’s face some facts. I don’t deal with being bad at things well. I’m either good at things, or “they don’t matter to me”. My tendency if I don’t succeed quickly is to say “fuck it” unless something grabs me by the nose and makes me REALLY WANT IT. Triathlon did that. Bloodbowl did that. Game Production did that. Now, I’m applying that elsewhere.
I spoke previously about my proud moment where I realized that reaching out to ask for mentorship would help with that dumb game, and that perhaps spending time flailing in public at something that interested me wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It was a nice gentle foray into those two things that trip me up (being bad in public and asking for help) that didn’t have high stakes in my life. On the heels of sticking my neck out there, I was licking my wounds about an opportunity at work that I thought was something I had in the bag that didn’t work out, and decided to do the same thing. I walked into my boss’s boss’s office and asked if we could have weekly mentorship meetings.
Oddly enough to no one but me, like most of these interludes, it wasn’t met with disdain, but actually got me some cred and he’s been helping me to learn and improve. It’s been awesome, but also scary for me because I AM SHOWING MY WARTS. I like doing all the improvements in secret and showing people when I’ve found my awesome. This whole vulnerability thing is rough and terrifying but also enthralling.
I am in a perpetual state of overwhelm lately, to the point where it’s become the norm. I understand people that can legitimately say they feel boredom the least. My entire existence, work and personal life, right now feels like it’s a cycle between going full tilt at as many things as I want to pursue as I can, bashing my head against them as long as I can stand it, and then recovering for the shortest amount of time possible until I can go rip my heart out of my chest and stomp on it all over again until I yield yet again.
It makes one tough. It also makes one tired.
I’m training for an Ironman right now. I’m 11 weeks away. Previous me would LAUGH at my progress, say I’m not doing enough, I should be crushing the volume, I should be putting together a lot more training than I am right now. Current me realizes that I’m doing what I can do while I’ve not been able to monofocus, and that might actually fare BETTER than the alternative.
I’ll spoil the race reports I haven’t put up yet, but I actually ran my 4th best half marathon (out of at least two dozen) at 3M (2:09) on so little training and unfortunate circumstances that it was silly. I rolled my best 6 hour Pace bend (88 miles) yet on a long ride of 3 hours the week before. I put together a day I called Long Day Junior (30 min swim, 3h ride, 1.5h run) and lived to tell the tale just fine. I’ve been really bad about the weekday workouts being anything but short base, and inconsistent between the sports (aka – I haven’t run in 3 weeks but I’ve been killing it on the bike and swim, earlier I was only running and biking), but endurance is endurance is endurance and I’ve been skating by.
This weekend will test some boundaries. I have a 15 mile run slated for Saturday. As I said, I haven’t run for a while. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe my endurance will chug through 2.75ish hours just fine. Maybe I’ll die at 10. Only the proverbial dice of the universe know. That will inform how I proceed.
My hope is that less training will get me to the start line uninjured, and my muscle memory and mental toughness will see me through the long long day, hopefully reaching the finish line somewhere before 15:52. It’s a gamble, but since my focus remains elsewhere, it’s my only play right now.
I owe you a story about a guitar, and I’ll elaborate because it circles back to my first point.
When I was 16 years old, I wanted to BE A ROCKSTAR. I could see it, feel it, the epitome of Juke Box Hero
Bought a beat up six string, in a secondhand store
Didn’t know how to play it, but he knew for sure
That one guitar, felt good in his hands
Didn’t take long, to understand
Just one guitar, slung way down low
Was a one way ticket, only one way to go
So he started rockin’, ain’t never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rockin’, someday gonna make it to the top
That was so going to be me. I asked for a guitar for Christmas. My parents gave me money to literally buy a beat up six string in a secondhand store. I lost my nerve and spent the money on clothes instead and I’ve never owned a guitar since.
Through my life, I’ve always felt the call to music and I’ve been able to envision myself on a stage singing and playing guitar. But… this was the sacred cow. I didn’t admit this to myself for at least two decades, but if I sucked at it, I would be crushed. For some reason, this was my holy grail and it had me shaking in my boots.
Lately, I’ve been eating sacred cows for breakfast, but this one still mooed loudly at me. Finally, I asked my husband for my Christmas present last year – to dig out his old guitar so I could learn to play it. In my mind, I definitely didn’t deserve anything new, but something that already existed would be such a low investment that if I sucked, if I couldn’t do it, if I gave up, it wouldn’t matter. Even just asking for THAT was nerve-wracking for me. I had to face the climb.
Good thing I like the climb.
I gave myself 2020 to suck at guitar. That might sound weird to anyone not inside my head, but I assure you, it’s important. Refer to above where I have to be good at things or I quit them. Building on sucking at things in public, I also decided it was important to suck at things in private too (so many innuendos, I realize, but bear with me without snickering too much).
I spent many days in the last month and a half building up callouses and swearing at the C chord (ok, I still swear at C) and my guitar strings sounding like a dying narwhal, but eventually I could play Amazing Grace. And then I could play some chords without looking. And it started feeling a little more natural. I spent so much time steeling myself to be frustrated at guitar, convincing myself the practice was worth it, convincing myself to not give up so easily, prepping myself for a fight.
Oddly enough, guitar is one of the things in my life right now that calms me. There’s no stakes, I’ve got no timeline, progression is happening, and I can produce things that sound like music after about a month of practice. This amuses me so! It’s also a new enough hobby that I can spend entire runs just imagining myself performing, having proficiency, and it’s just spellbinding to me. I’m not yet in the messy middle (like a lot of other places in my life) where I’m banging my head against improvements, feeling like a failure at things while actually improving incrementally but below my threshold of notice, despondent that I SUCK AT EVERYTHING, while I just need to keep going.
I still see that me, up on a stage, singing and plucking, and it gives me hope and motivation. Motivation for that specifically, and for everything else, for the fact that I can fight through feeling like a failure at things to improve and conquer and not stay complacent and relentlessly and dauntlessly pursue the things I want.
Often, I judge myself for being a dabbler, but I think dabbling gives me hope. When I’m at the prohibitively difficult parts of the proverbial skill tree of life in other areas, it’s nice to have a place where improvement is easy and noticeable.
On that note, it’s probably time to play some guitar…. my fingers don’t hurt TOO BADLY right now…