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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sabotage and Superheroes

     I am facing some big challenges in my life this week.  Not life and death challenges, but the existential kinds that define you.  I was thinking of being quiet today.  I don't come off looking too great in these moments, and there are so many real tragedies going on in the world.  But, as my sister says, life is about "ands", not just "ors." I can be grateful that I am alive, working, able to do so many things others can't do, "and" be struggling with my own internal conflicts.
     It's challenging to have other people control part of my fate.  It goes against my nature.  I like to be in control of everything.  In my magical thinking, my control keeps the world safe and stable.  This week I had choices made for me that were hard and made me feel unworthy.  I am trying to keep my faith through the darkness that everything turns out for the best in the end, even though I can't see it right now.
     This wasn't the best way to start my comprehensive exam for my doctorate degree.  It's a high-stakes test that will decide if I can become a doctoral candidate, rather than a doctoral student.  That means I can work on my dissertation and graduate.  If I don't pass, I will be asked to leave the program.  Everyone keeps telling me I will do fine, but that just adds to the internal pressure I feel.  The test started yesterday.  I found myself staring at the computer all day with nothing to say.  I cleaned the house.  I answered e-mails.  I played games.  I did anything but focus on my test.  I realized I am sabotaging myself.  It's better to fail because I didn't really try than to really give it my all and fail anyway.  I feel this way a lot, but on my good days I can usually push through the darkness.  The earlier news of the week made me feel like a failure.  I couldn't seem to convince myself that this would be any different.
     Luckily, I am better at doing things for other people than I am at doing things for me.  I joined a group called I Run 4 Michael.  The group matches people who can run with people who can't.  I am blessed to be matched with a cute little boy in England as my coach.  Luke has autism, and life is challenging for him and for his mom.  Luke's favorite superheroes are Batman and Spiderman, so Mandy and I decided to do the Hero 5k dressed as his favorite superheroes.  Before I had Luke in my life, I never would have thought about doing a 5k, but the thought of making him happy to see the pictures was enough to make me sign up.  It also seemed perfect because the money helps kids in foster care, another cause I am passionate about now.
     Mandy and I started the race.  We made it to the first marker and could have turned around, but we decided to keep going.  About 150 feet from the halfway marker, we were painfully regretting our earlier decision.  We sat down for a moment, took a breath, and both said, "Let's finish it."  We kept going, made the turn, and headed into the second half of the race.  When we finally got to the finish line, everyone had packed up and left.  I was sunburned, had bleeding blisters, and felt exhausted, but I finished it.  I didn't sabotage the race.  And let me tell you, there were all kinds of real excuses that I could have used today.
     Sometimes life gets hard.  Sometimes you choose to be the villain and sabotage your success.  Sometimes you choose to stay in the race and see it through, even if no one is waiting at the finish line.  Today I chose to be someone's superhero.  Tomorrow I will choose to be my own superhero and give my whole self to the test.  I might fail, but sometimes the glory is in the doing, not the results.

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