When you put yourself out there, when you work, when you have kids, when you run, when you build, when you create, when you challenge, when you try at anything, you set yourself up to win but also to fail. Enjoying the exhilarating ups and enduring the gut-punch downs.
We all do it – we all experience the highs and lows to a greater or lesser extent. Some people are magnificent, truly admirable at not allowing themselves to be knocked down. I aspire to someday being that person who brushes off setbacks like tiny drops of mist at the end of a morning run – irrelevant, mildly annoying, mostly unnoticed.
But I’m a long way from there. I can be pricked by the smallest interruption, the tiniest incision, by a “one of those days” day. A badly worded email, an unexpected phone-call, a casual comment at a meeting. A big decision – not personal, just business. But personal to me.
Analyzing everything. What could I have done differently? Why did that person say that? Does it really mean what I think it means? How can I fix it? Why is it happening? Am I somehow failing?
And although I know I’m not, I need time to wallow, to be miserable, to question, to let the self-doubt take over. I need to talk to my husband, to rant, to cry on his shoulder. To wail to him I might be a useless person who is dreadful at everything, and wait for him to tell me I’m not. To threaten to quit. To let him know that I’m not ready for silver linings or bright sides or picking myself up. Knowing that will come, but not yet. Some wallowing is allowed – some is necessary.
Then. Hours later, or perhaps the next morning. The sun comes out. Or the universe sends a sign. Not a real sign. But something I can knowingly and willfully interpret as a sign. An orchid on my office window that blooms suddenly after months of barren stems. A message, a conversation, an e-mail, blue breaking suddenly across the sky, a song on the radio, a hug from a child at just the right moment.
And I pick myself up. I dust off the mist. I start to walk, assessing the damage. It feels OK. I start to run. The fighting talk starts. Not out loud, but loud in my head. I’m alright. I can do this. I can do it another way or a better way.