Did any of you ever see that episode of Seinfeld – The Opposite? To summarise from Wikipedia “George, upon visiting the beach, (where many of the characters are seen having a major revelation), decides that every decision that he has ever made has been wrong, and that his life is the exact opposite of what it should be. Later, at Monk’s Café with the gang, he tells Jerry this, who convinces him that “if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”. George then resolves to start doing the complete opposite of what he would do normally. He suddenly begins to experience good luck, getting a girlfriend, moving out of his parents’ house, and even landing a job with the New York Yankees.”
I know that Jerry Seinfeld described Seinfeld as a sitcom “where no-one learned anything” and as such it was wonderful anti-dote to so many cheesy sitcoms with “useful life lessons”. However, ironically, a few years ago I did learn a great deal from Seinfeld by doing the opposite of me.. I don’t really like most self-help books or self-improvement stuff – most of the time I feel that they oversimplify people’s personalities and issues and that the solutions offered are pat and patronising. However, I do realise that there are times when you need to change aspects of your life and habits and so, for a while, I did the opposite of me. You see, up until that point I believed that my ballooning weight and inability to exercise was just the way I was. I wasn’t happy about it but I didn’t believe that it was possible to change. Everyone knew (or so I thought) I couldn’t exercise and I knew I couldn’t stop eating. However, for some reason doing the opposite of me lodged into my brain and so I experimented with ignoring what I normally did and so believed I could exercise and could lose weight. I did and I did. And while watching what I eat and how I eat is still something I need to keep a check on I do know that I can be slim and don’t have to hoover up everything in sight. And with 5 marathons under my belt now, I also know that I can exercise.
And the point of this history of me is? Ah I was getting to that. As many of you have realised (particularly those who have read my deeply stressed-out outbursts on Facebook) the past year of working as a marketing manager in a sollicitor’s firm (law firm) has not been easy. There’s been the predictable crises resulting from childcare and domestic issues but there has also been a great deal of work-related stress. Focusing on the marathon in the weeks leading up to October 12th, I put all that out of my mind. But when I found myself back from Chicago with no immediate goal in mind I really sank down. Hence my January in October post, and my overwhelming desire to just get my head down and run another race. However – I decided to do “the opposite of me”. For some strange reason, when I’m under pressure, I tend to just pile on more pressure until I crack and everything stops. I then finally tend to admit that I have too much on my plate and only then do I re-evaluate. I didn’t let myself do that this time. While part of me threw around all sorts of crazy ideas “the opposite of me” would not let me make any decisions until I knew that I knew. For sure. So I flailed around for a few weeks, listening to all your wise advice about whether or not to race (and I really appreciate all of that – I can’t tell you) and a few of you offered advice that went a bit further than whether or not to race – ShirleyPerly sent me an incredibly kind and incisive email about the role of training and racing in your life. I didn’t make any decisions(believe me, that is the opposite of impetuous me). I just let things percolate. On Monday evening, when I came back from work stressed out and grumpy , my husband begged me to give up the job, telling me that I wasn’t even doing the job I was hired to do. And suddenly I tweaked. All this time I had been beating myself up for failing – failing to enjoy a prestigious job, failing to appreciate how lucky I am to be in a job at all in this current climate, failing to be good enough at this job. Adam’s comment made me realise that the job I am doing at the moment is NOT the one I signed up for and not one I chose. It’s just evolved.. Thinking that through made me realise that while I enjoy doing freelance project work, I hate going back into an office with its office politics, the way people check up on you as they do in offices, and the constant battle to prevent bucks being passed my way. So on Thursday I went to see my boss and I told him that while I would be delighted to carry on taking web and marketing-related project work I would, by the end of January, stop doing the endless admin side of my new role and would cease to work in their offices and be at their beck and call. They could go with that, or not at all. And guess what? They went for it.
Like so many people I find it difficult to actually, honestly, say what I think – particularly when I think people are not going to be happy to hear it. Making an effort, for once, to do this, has been the most incredible release. I asked for what I wanted, and I got it. Not only that – once I had made this decision I immediately received a request to do some freelance work for a different company. Completely out of the blue, completely unexpected, and yet perfectly right. I have been thinking for years that what I’d be good at would be the person who sits between the techies and the business hiring them and I’ve never been brave enough to do anything about it. When I finally dared to say it, it started happening..
I apologise because up until now this has been a non-running related blogpost. But strangely enough it is. Forcing myself to believe I could run, and then that I could run marathons, has slowly trickled its way into wondering whether there is more I could do that I never dared to confess to..
And the running is good. I’m not running a december race. I’m enjoying the downtime. For the first time I’m running a decent mileage without a goal race and relatively quickly after a marathon – I’m aiming for 20 to 25 miles a week. I’m paying attention to my stride, my pace, my body. Babying it when I’m tired and pushing it when I feel I want to. It’s lovely and I’m enjoying it. My training for London starts at the end of December – I want to be fresh and ready. Removing this enormous blockage of stress about work should be a help.
Thank you for being so patient while I’ve been away – I’m back with you all now.