So on the spur of the moment I signed up to run the London marathon 2016 in support of an excellent charity called London Youth. This is often how I make decisions. My gut instinct says it will be a great idea, and I say YES! ...and then I figure out how the hell I’m actually going to do it later! I find that the decision, plus telling people, gives me the motivation I need to make myself take the steps to get where I want to go.
I also visualize the end result. I swear this is the thing that gets me through the tough times! When I studied for my MSc at night, whilst working full-time and raising 2 children, I visualized wearing the cap and gown, having an audience watching and crossing the stage to receive my degree. ME, the person who had no education as a child and felt like I was 'the stupid one' most of my life, would hear the noise of applause, would be dressed professionally and would feel all the relief of two years of study (and a life time leading up to it) as I received my scroll of achievement, the symbol of having arrived to a state of intelligence.
It may sound silly, and there were plenty of times when I cried and felt like I would never be able to get there. The exhaustion while doing a dissertation that tackled the hardest part of my cult upbringing and postnatal depression meant it was not only an intellectual exercise but an emotional journey, an attempt to understand my past and make some sense of the ‘normal’ world.
If I couldn’t visualize the end result I wouldn’t have had a reason to motivate myself to wake up at 4 a.m. to get two hours of studying in before my kids woke up. I look back and, while people on a normal trajectory of study and work may see this as something small, the hundreds of people who encounter tragedy, mental health issues or difficulty in achieving an education will understand the full commitment and appreciation that getting an education brings you. In my world, education brings power and choice, two of the things I had little of while growing up.
So while I started this blog thinking about the marathon I’ve signed up to and wanting to muse on how the hell I’m going to run 26.2 miles when I can currently only run 3, this process has showed me that the answer has been inside me all along. If I could get through adjusting to life outside of a cult, if I could adjust to parenting after horrific postnatal depression and if I could get a Masters education in the middle of all of this, how hard could learning to run 26.2 miles be? I can visualize the end result: The ticker tape finish line, the crowds of people supporting the cause, the buzz of being among athletes, the outfit I’ll wear (obviously) which will make my butt look amazing (it’s all in the detail trust me!) and my red-faced sigh of achievement at the end, then I can do this!
I’m also running for a dear friend who passed away this year through complications exacerbated by alcoholism. I am also a recovering alcoholic with 6 years sobriety (oh yeh, that was happening through all of the above). I’m running because I have a chance, one that I choose everyday to have, to make a difference to myself first, so that I can make a difference to others. London Youth is a fantastic charity that supports disadvantaged young people all across London and gives them the opportunities that I didn’t have as a kid. It gives them youth-centres, and mentors and support through education, the education they may take for granted amidst the chaos of living, but one they’ll appreciate fully when they regroup throughout the marathon of life.
Please support this cause and give someone the gift of motivation to change their life.
What can you visualize today that will give you a sense of achievement in 2016?