Saturday, November 23, 2013

the best advice I've ever received

You know the feeling after you get sick eating shrimp and then can't eat shrimp again for a month? Some things just stick with you.

You never know when you're going to hear something that happens to stick but when you do, the impact can be more profound than even the worst case of food poisoning.

I'd love to be the one sharing this sticky, wise insight; unfortunately, the best I've got is "don't drink scalding hot tea with a straw".  But the fact that I've learned that lesson the hard way (i.e. green tea induced blood blisters on my uvula) yet have still made it through 23 years of life means that I must be getting some pretty good advice somewhere else.

And I have... which is what brings me to this:

I don't know how it started, but my dad has signed every birthday card since 1999 as "Dadward" (in reference to Squidward Tentacles).  But when he isn't channeling his inner, animated squid, he is just Dad, one of the smartest people I know.

In response to one of the many overly dramatic crises of a teenage girl, he once told me something that I think about often: my feelings themselves never need to be justified.  If something makes you sad, then you have the right to feel sad.  If something makes you angry, you don't need to rationalize it.

That doesn't mean that how you act on those emotions can't be wrong (so don't quote Dadward when you throw a toaster because the cat pooped on the carpet again).  But never apologize for a feeling because a feeling isn't right or wrong.  It just is.

Did you really think I wasn't going to have something about running in here?

This advice is only helpful if you're, ya know, running a marathon.  But if you are running a marathon, this is gold.  Kathleen Castles-Fonseca, i.e. Steph's (my college roommate and best friend) mom, ran a sub 2:40 marathon at the age of 40 at the Olympic trials and is one of the most amazing runners I know. 

If I were her, I would have blocked my emails by now... but she hasn't.  Instead, she continues to answer every anxious, marathon novice question I assault her with, including my latest about pacing.  She told me:

Basically, remember that the marathon isn't a sprint... it's, well, a marathon.  She said that your body starts breaking down at mile 20, so you don't want beat yourself before you get there.

For the first half of my last marathon, the little blonde nut in me was screaming, "Run faster!"  Had I listened to her, I almost definitely would have bonked by mile 20.  Instead, I repeated Ms. Fonseca's words over and over until that little blonde wacko got tired of fighting... and then the race really started.

As if I needed any more motivation to do what I want.

But seriously.  This advice might be the most influential advice I've ever received.

I've made some major decisions in my life with which not everyone might agree (spontaneously moving to an unknown city and living with my boyfriend before being married, for example).  And like anyone, before I made those decisions, I asked for people's opinions.

My mom isn't telling me to ignore what I hear.  In fact, she's told me to be mindful of the opinions of those I trust because they can often give me a new perspective.  But while I should (and do) value and respect the opinions and advice I receive, no one truly understands my situation as well as I do; someone looking in from the outside can't possibly know every detail surrounding my circumstance.

In the end, you need to go with your gut... because your gut is the one who will be living with your choices.

A little bit deeper than my normal posts, I know.  And a lot of you probably aren't burning your uvulas and don't need any more life advice.

But then again, there might also be some of you who, as a college freshmen, had to go to the health center for your crusted-over eyelids because you thought it was a good idea to slam your forehead into some decorative fake snow.

So to those people: you're welcome.

SaturDAY SaturDAY!

What's the best advice you've ever received?

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