The story of the Princess and the Pea is a simple one. A girl was so sensitive that she could feel the presence of a single tiny pea underneath a multi-story high pile of mattresses.
While I have always had a rich inner experience and love to challenge myself, my life has occasionally resembled that of the Princess and the Pea (comically, I hope). I have always been stubborn, and though this has endowed me with the qualities of loyalty and dedication, it has also made me highly particular. I don’t think I could rival the Princess’s powers of pea perception, but just you try to get me to let the different foods on my dinner plate touch—and then actually eat the contaminated bits.
I like things a certain way, and if I know what I like, why change?
I was never one for challenging myself physically. I didn’t like group sports where people threw the ball “at” me. When I was nine, I joined my first and only athletic team, the diving team. What could go wrong? About halfway through the summer, I managed to hit the diving board—only with my ankles and feet, but I was traumatized nonetheless. I spent the rest of the summer trying to convince my mother I was sick in the mornings and just couldn’t go to practice. Individual athletic activity was officially out, and besides, I hated being outdoors and sweating.
So how in the world did I end up running a half-marathon a month ago, you might ask?
Change, as it happens, is not always a bad thing. As a senior in college with only a few weeks until final exams and graduation, I am in for a whirlwind of change. For the past 22 years of my life, I have been able to predict just about everything that would go on in my life. I have been safe, and protected, and provided for while I have grown into the person I am today.
I have never been more terrified. But, because of what I proved to myself last month in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, I feel a little more ready to cope with the changes to come.
Exercising regularly and keeping to a schedule was never something I kept up with for more than a few weeks. I can a couple of miles twice a week (weather permitting), and I thought that made me relatively in shape. If you had told me in October that I would run a half marathon in February, I would have laughed you out of the room.
I somehow got the urge though, and once I was registered and everyone and their mother knew my plans, I couldn’t fail. I had a set schedule for 6 workouts a week, and if I followed it exactly I was sure to succeed. How embarrassing would that have been, if I had not been able to live up to my challenge, when all it depended on was my willpower and dedication, usually only for an hour a day?
Crossing the finish line was a spectacular feeling. I finished a little slower than I had hoped, but I ran the entire race with no walking breaks. In doing that, I proved to myself that I could do things I thought impossible. During training, I endured discomfort and was late or rushed a few times because of fitting workouts into a busy schedule. I felt sore and tired and convinced that I was crazy. But as I crossed the finish line, I had rarely felt more proud of myself.
Today, a lot of things seem impossible. Leaving my cozy life at college. Not living with my best friend. Finding a job, and not just any job, but one I like. Learning to be an adult. Moving away from home and my friends and starting a few, grown-up life for myself.
For a particular princess, the thought of so much change is scary. But, it is right there in front of me. So here’s to the new challenges I will soon face—ready or not, they are here.