Why is it so hard to move on? Deep down there comes a point when you know something that was a vital part of your life has run it’s course but you can’t bring yourself to let it go. You can’t bring yourself to step out into the unknown – it’s too scary.
For me, that was competitive running. I just recently ran my last NCAA cross-country race ever. The end was bittersweet, but the newfound freedom it has granted me has been exhilarating.
Running and racing has been the focal point of my life for so long. It has brought me so much passion, joy, and intense moments of aliveness. But earlier this year the fire inside me was gone. Maybe not completely, but it didn’t burn as bright.
There were still times I wanted to hit and accolades I wanted to achieve. I thought these achievements would make me feel validated or proven. But my self-worth is not predicated on such merits. Those numbers or awards do not define who I am. The more I can disidentify with those times and achievements, the more I can get to know my true self – wherein my true happiness and self-worth lies.
But I was scared to let go. I was holding onto that identity of being a runner, a D1 athlete, a teammate. It was safe and comfortable to be doing what I’d been doing for so much of my life. I used running as a way to rationalize all I did. What I ate, my sleep habits, how much I drank, etc. Everything was centered on improving myself as a runner and it was hard to let that go.
But now that I’m done, I’ve found other reasons for why I do things in my life. And there are other things I do for no reason – just because I want to. And that’s reason enough.
I still run everyday and I love it. But I run with a new meaning and purpose and it brings me joy in a new way. It doesn’t consume all my energies and thoughts anymore. This has allowed me to see other paths available and find new passions to pursue. These passions make me feel alive in a different way, yet equally as satisfying.
Do I regret not quitting? No. I ensured that I got the most out of my running as I could. But it was the safe choice. I’m not going to search for the next point in my life when it’s time to move on from something, but when it comes I’m going to be aware and accepting of it. And next time, I’m going to take the risk – trust myself and allow the doors to the endless new adventures out there to open. Then the question becomes: will I go on them?