Part of me really wants to start telling you that I had an awesome week, but that wouldn’t exactly be the truth. I didn’t have a horrible week, but it wasn’t all that amazing either. With the onset of Spring, I have been itching to get outside and start exercising more, especially now that I feel almost like myself again after being sick. My asthma flare ups have been less severe and less frequent, so I figured it was time to get back up on the horse and get moving. In my enthusiasm to start exercising again, I decided that I wanted to go for a short bike ride earlier this week. It was cold, but not freezing cold, so I figured I should be okay. What followed was a big fat smack upside the face from reality: my lungs are not as strong as I sometimes like to think they are. I technically know this, but sometimes it’s a whole lot nicer to just forget that I have asthma and imagine that I can do things like go for a bike ride in 40 degree weather just one month after having pneumonia. Then I go and do said bike ride and realize I can barely make it around the block without feeling like my lungs are going to explode. And of course instead of taking that experience and deciding to just stick to indoor activities until it warms up outside, stubborn ol’ me decides to be a child about it and not work out at all for the rest of the week.
Please bear with me as this little story takes a rather abrupt detour, but I promise it all comes together in the end.
For a few months now I have been in the process of applying to study abroad this coming fall. The program that I am applying to is at Oxford University (see awesome overhead view to your left). Just the idea of applying to and being accepted into this program is something that I have yet to comprehend because it would be such an amazing opportunity. When I first started the application process I got a lot done, completing a vast majority of it fairly quickly. All I needed to finish was the final essay, fill out a few forms, get a few signatures, and secure a few recommendations. I was so excited and determined to submit my application, until I started to hear a few comments that made me question whether or not I should even be applying to such a program as Oxford. I mean, come on. It’s Oxford. One of the leading schools in the world. What business does someone like me have even attempting to apply? Can I even afford to pay for the tuition, let alone living expenses? These were all questions that were raised not only by myself, but by people that I love, trust, and look up to. Even though these questions had been in my mind before I even started applying, I had made up my mind that I was determined enough to at least try. At least that’s how I felt until those other voices started weighing in, seeming to only confirm those background questions and insecurities that I thought I had already dealt with.
I started seriously questioning whether I was even going to submit the application. Until yesterday. I had been wrestling with whether or not to finish the application, especially seeing as how the deadline is getting closer and closer. I was running through my mind all the reasons not to submit the application: lack of funds, lack of academic ability, not ready to live in a different country for three months. In all reality, thinking about going to Oxford started to sound more scary than exciting. I was scared to death. Then, out of nowhere, I thought of one reason why I should apply: I would much rather try to apply and not be accepted into the program or not be able to go than not apply and never know what would have happened. I can handle rejection, but I don’t think I can handle not knowing what would have happened if I didn’t at least try.
So how does this connect to my crappy week and not exercising? Well, after I went on that bike ride I was more than just frustrated. I was scared. I was reminded that my body is not as strong as it should be, and that scares me to death. So instead of facing my fears and trying something else, I decided to be stubborn and let those stupid fears get the best of me. Well, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be controlled by fear anymore. That doesn’t mean that I’m expecting exercise to get any easier. Going to Oxford, if I get accepted, is not going to be easy just because I decide not to be held captive by fear. We don’t grow and become better people by doing the easy things, avoiding anything that tests the boundaries of convenience. It’s when we are tested and have to put forth everything we are to get through something that we come away changed. I don’t want to stay where I’m at, remaining stagnant, never going anywhere but where I’m most comfortable. I want to break free of comfort and convenience. So I’m going to exercise, even if I have to start out slower than I really want to. I’m going to submit my application to Oxford and be happy with whatever comes of it. I’m going to live without regrets, because there’s no regret in having known you tried.
“A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”