I was hiding in a cave. Literally. Trying to figure out the mystery of physics equations. It was 6pm, and I had been up and running for 12 hours at this point. The walk through the park before dawn, the bus ride to the train station that would take me to another bus to get to school. Sitting in a classroom full of very scientific introverts, pretending to be a chemist.
The teacher had told us we could use an old shirt instead of a white lab coat. I figured my Dad’s blue-and-green striped shirt would do the trick.
I was the only one who seemed to think it was on trend. Well, let’s say I was also the only one to match it with purple velvet pumps. I always had a great sense of fashion.
In the middle of this group, I stood out, and probably not for the right reasons. I had great grades, grades which could eventually get me into med school, my dream, but it didn’t quite fit in. I talked way more and louder than anyone else, made jokes with the teacher no one thought were funny, and I didn’t care as much as they did about beakers and moles.
Strong-willed and stubborn, I still put in the hours. Therefore the hiding in my parents’ basement at 6pm, racking my brains to figure out how to make sense of those numbers and symbols. The enveloping smell of homemade shepard’s pie couldn’t get through the heavy door, so my dad had to come and tell me when dinner was ready. I would eat in 30 minutes top chrono, then would head back to my cave and work until 9 or 10.
Over and over again. To achieve my dream of becoming a doctor.
I soon realized it wasn’t meant to be. As I was seeing the other students enjoy their days while I was painfully making it through, I thought to myself that perhaps it wasn’t my path. If the journey wasn’t fun, then how come could I believe the end goal would be?
So I took a guess, and switched programs. Already, my days were more fulfilling, I was uplifted spending my time around peers I shared similar interests and experiences with.
This week, I found myself in a totally different class setting. This one was full of high tech bikes and Spandex—wearing folks, including me. The dashboard projected on the big screen facing us was full of metrics: RPM, watts, targets. It wasn’t my first time indoor cycling, but I had never done it in such a quantified manner.
I powered my way thru, and finished the class on the edge of throwing up. Still, I didn’t give up.
Two years ago, I would’ve taken it as a challenge. How come those people were stronger than me? I would’ve fight for the KOM, hustled and grind to get to the top in my age category.
Nowadays, I see no point.
Different times, different classes, same finding: even if I am good at something, even great, doesn’t mean it’s meant for me.
I could have worked my peach-looking bum off and persevere to become a doctor, and I could train 12 hours a week to be in better shape, but I choose not too. Because my definition of success is not linked anymore to the price at the end of a long harrowing road.
It doesn’t have to be painful. You do not have to suffer along the way to get whatever you want. Because you get to define what success looks for you. Trust me, it can be fun, once you can kick the ego out of the equation.
I still live my life fully aligned, determined: eyes on the prize. Except the target has shifted. The prize has become the journey. The biggest award lies in this very moment. The thing you are doing to get you where you want to be is the reward.
If only I would’ve known before, how much suffering could I had avoided?
The weirdest thing is the more I let go of, the more I get exactly what I want. As if life was playing tricks on me. A career I love, that taps right in my strengths and qualities. My best body ever, at a healthy BMI, with painfree workouts and lots of cheese.
Therefore, as for me, no more classes (or caves, for that matter) for a while. I’ve spent my fair share in those. You’ll find me upstairs, eating shepard’s pie.