This weekend, like many weekends, I was at Target picking up some groceries. You know, the essentials like Diet Coke, bananas, and granola bars. On the way up to the check-outs I wandered through the clothing section. I walked through the plus-size section without pausing until I got to the quote-unquote regular sizes (I have A LOT of issues with how clothes are designed for different women’s bodies but that’s not the topic of this post). Flipping through the stacks, I found a cute pink and black top in medium, held it up between me and a mirror, then added it to the cart.
It was not until I was home and unpacking my bags that I realized that I had done that bit of clothes shopping without any intentional thought. I went to what is now my section, found my size, and picked out a shirt that fit perfectly when I tried it on later that afternoon.
I still get surprised sometimes at my life, including my size. I ran 14 miles on Saturday morning, and was able to walk back to the car afterwards without a limp. My job is to edit dissertations for doctoral studies; a job I’m qualified for because I am a #NotThatKindOfDoctor (aka a PhD). And I have been on dates with a nice guy that did not end with ghosting.
People that I meet these days don’t know all about my history. They don’t know about the me that was 250 pounds, that couldn’t walk up two flights of stairs without a break, that feared the creaking chair would break, and who hid behind furniture or other people when a camera came out. When I was volunteering for a race, a woman came up to get her race number and shared that she was worried about being at the back of the pack. I responded that us curvy girls have to support one another. After a look up and down me, there was an annoyed eye roll before she walked away. She sees who I am now, not the struggle it took to get here. And not the echoes of my past that every once in a while overwhelm the truth.
This past Saturday, I ran 7 miles by myself and then 6.5 with a friend. I was supposed to run 14 total but didn’t want to, and had justified that 13.5 was close enough. As we neared the end of our loop together, I said a cuss word (or two). My legs felt strong enough for another half mile, so there was no good reason not to. Only the whiny “I don’t want to” reason. So I looped a few blocks down and back, long enough that I was sure my total was at least 14.
Knowing I was strong enough to do that .5 is part of who I am when I am found. Choosing the right clothes from the right section happens when I am found. Volunteering for a challenge at work is what happens when I am found. Getting found is a process, just like getting lost.
I’ve survived 13 marathons and one Ph.D. program. So…now what? I’ve learned through the journeys that it’s not about intelligence, speed, magic beans, or waiting for it to get easy. It’s about strength and perseverance. This year’s blog series will be about #WhatsNext after crossing some major finish lines, and preparing for new starting lines as a runner and a (not that kind of) doctor. I am #RunPhD.