"Look not outward but inward for the way is not in the sky but in the heart." -Buddha
With the year coming to a close, I find it only appropriate that this post is a reflection on the past year. In terms of personal growth, this year has definitely been a big step. I've pushed myself more this year than I ever have in the past, and in the process, realized that the most important success comes not from other people's validation of your actions, but from achieving goals you set for yourself and pushing yourself further than you think is possible. The worst that can happen is not succeeding right away; the best is being able to say you did something you thought was impossible.
In October 2008, I fell down some bleachers and at the time, thought I had just bruised my knee a little bit. I've been dealing with some other knee issues since late 2004, so initially, I attributed the increased pain to the fall aggravating everything else that is wrong with my knee. However, once February rolled around and my knee was still in as much pain as it was in October, I found out that when I fell, I had landed in just the right spot to cause bursitis and a sprained PCL. In short, my only option was to start physical therapy or risk not ever being able to march again- in my opinion, not even an option.
In June, when I was home and settled for summer break, I started physical therapy and a "light exercise" program that involved walking and a little bit of jogging- all my doctor would allow me to do, for fear of causing another injury. For a few weeks, I spent about 30 mins every other day going for a little walk/jog; if I wanted to be prepared for the upcoming marching band season, I needed to exercise a little bit, and I had barely done anything of that sort since February. Well, that was extremely short-lived, because as much as I've learned to push through pain, my physical therapist realized that my sudden return to exercising had caused me to develop shin splints. All of a sudden, not only could I not run, but I was supposed to rest my legs as much as possible, and I would only be able to march later in the summer if I worked my way back into exercising slowly, without any other complications. After going to PT 2-3 times a week for 2 months, I was finally cleared to start marching band at the end of August. Though I was still experiencing some knee pain at that point, I realized that I had come far enough over the summer to be able to deal with it on my own.
Thankfully, I made it through the 2009 marching band season without having to sit out of any rehearsals or performances- the first season I have been able to do so since 2004.
But marching band is different than most other situations- I was able to push myself while surrounded by a close-knit bunch of supportive people. Would I be able to find the same determination within myself in a different setting that would challenge me in the same way?
When the Big Chill 2009 (a 5K) rolled around, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to see if I really could push myself without relying on others. (Since I started having issues with my knee in 2004, my parents have not always been particularly supportive of my participation in activities that could cause exacerbation of my pain. In that respect, this was something that I needed to do not only for myself, but to prove to them that I can make it through anything I decide I can.) Since early June, I hadn't run at all; I was too afraid of developing shin splints again and being forced to stop marching before the end of the season. Since that wasn't really an issue any more, I went ahead with this. In a word, it was an amazing experience for me. My goal was to finish in about an hour- I finished in just over 45 minutes- and although I walked a lot of it, I was able to run much more than I expected to. Coming around the last corner of the course and crossing the finish line was almost overwhelming; I felt like I had really come as far as possible at that point from where I had started out in February.
This is one of my stories that has written itself over the past year. I hope that you have written your own stories, learned some things along the way, and continue to achieve your goals in 2010. Here's to a safe and happy new year.