A friend’s husband once told me that he won my friend’s heart through sheer will power and perseverance. He had known her since high school, and through the years, he had stood by as she dated other men.
Why? Because she didn’t consider him in a romantic light, he knew he had to simply wait until she did. When I asked how he was able to finally become her boyfriend, then fiance, and finally husband, he triumphantly answered: “Perseverance, Baby!”
In the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about his answer with increasing frequency. I don’t know about you all, but as I continue to mature, I’m constantly inundated with subtle challenges from the outside and nagging thoughts from the inside, both of which question if I’m truly living my life the way I should. Some of you twinkles have already been here, some are here with me at this stage now, and some of you will probably encounter this stage in the near or far future. Regardless of when you hit this stage, though, it’s a stage that every woman will traverse at least once in her life and one that creates some interesting ripples in an otherwise calm life, at least in my case.
For those of you who just started reading my blog, you may not know that much about me personally–that I teach English at a college in California or that I come from a family of highly driven people, many of whom are physicians. Needless to say, I was raised to excel in all things academic–even the sciences, which I didn’t particular enjoy and still don’t despite all those years studying medicine–and to persevere above all else. Once I start something, I was taught to see it through to completion.
Why? Because perseverance builds character, and character is a hallmark of a mature woman. This is what I was taught by my parents since I was in grade school.
But many times, I’ve felt like that man up in the cover picture, running because I’m committed to the race, but wondering if I’m even doing anything worthwhile or if my contribution makes any difference. Intellectually, I know I make a difference, but my emotions will sometimes say otherwise. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way because I meet many women who share their stories of struggle and perseverance when I think they are fabulous examples of womanhood. But despite our best pep talks to ourselves, we often feel as though we’ve been left behind…
…that all we’re left seeing are the backs of other runners who pass us by in the race for the finish line. If I’m not careful, my inner self, the one trained to be an overachiever, can do one interesting number on my psyche as I keep chugging along to finish my race.
Rather than keeping the focus on what I’m doing and how I’m progressing, my focus wanders to those ahead of me, the ones who are leading the pack. If I’m not careful, I start to compare myself with these fellow runners who are in an entirely different race with different values, goals, and achievements.
Thankfully, whenever my focus starts to stray from my goal and path, something always pulls me back from this comparison with others and reminds me that I’m running a good race, that my efforts and path are on the straight and narrow.
Recently, two companies contacted me with small business ventures for my YouTube channel and for our “Musings” blog. Once plans get finalized, I’ll be making an announcement so that you twinkles can rejoice with me. 🙂 Their emails reminded me that perseverance is still key to my life. I may never reach the literary heights of some of my favorite writers like Hemingway or Austen, but I’m certainly honing my craft and writing. Just thinking back to what “Musings” was like two years ago shows me how far this little blog has come: we now have a tight community of women who share their love of Kdramas as well as their zest for life.
And this then reminded me that in a marathon I witnessed back in college, the Boston Marathon, it wasn’t really the top marathoners who truly appreciated the marathon experience but rather the average marathoner, who was running for personal reasons, not for the glory or fame of coming in first. I still remember the words of one marathoner who thanked all the Wellesley College women for cheering our hearts and throats out for him because he had just been about to give up. You see, my alma mater rests at the halfway point of the Boston Marathon, and there is a steep hill just before the college. According to the marathoner, he kept running up that steep incline because he could hear our cheers and knew there were encouraging people rooting for him to keep going, to keep persevering.
On the sidelines of the marathon, I didn’t know this. All I remember from that day of cheering was that these people were incredible, running the way they did. Never did I imagine that some of them had been about to give up but continued with the race because they heard our voices raised in cheers, urging them onward in their race to the finish line.
All I saw were these strong, well-conditioned runners who ran by me and my friends, giving our outstretched hands high fives as they flew past us.
What a beautiful word.
What a great reminder that worthwhile things are rarely obtained without it.
I hope you will continue to persevere in your own lives and keep me accountable to continue in mine.