Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why Do We Insist On Pushing Ourselves?

Why do we do this? Pushing our bodies harder, faster, farther, only to be hit with the realization that our bodies push back. And they usually push harder, faster, and farther than we had intended to push in the first place.

At least for me, this is a competition within myself. It’s not a competition to be the next supermodel or Olympic athlete. It’s about being better than myself. It’s a game I know I can’t win. And yet, I keep playing a game with myself that has an impossible course.

The past week or so has been busy at work, preparing my presentation. And since I’ve actually gotten a lot accomplished at the office, I’ve been taking the nights off. And I think, why can’t I do that more often? Because I’m a Type A control freak, that’s why.

It’s funny because I used to push myself, really push myself. I would tell myself that without feeling pain, I wasn’t really trying hard enough. But one day, that pain lasted for more than a day after exercise. And then soon enough, that pain was all I knew, whether I exercised or not. It felt like I was running a marathon, even if I was walking only a few steps.

And so, this thinking leads (some of) us to believe that we have made ourselves sick. But maybe, for me, at least, this constant nag to push is what keeps me going. It is no longer to see how many miles a day I can walk, but to see how many stairs I can climb with little pain, without wincing at every step, without feeling like a miniature firing squad is poised and ready to take down my knees.

I think we push and push and push, only to realize that it’s the small strides that really count. But in the intense academic environment that I find myself in, it’s hard to admit this when I’m surrounded by people just like me. Rather, I’m surrounded by people who are just like the person I used to be.

I haven’t lost all of my “push”. I still stress too much about things I shouldn’t, but I’m trying to work through this. For me, I push so I don’t have to justify myself to others. I guess I shouldn’t have to do this, regardless, but it makes me feel that I don’t have to answer questions that people don’t ask.

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