Hi, I’m Lisa……a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a sister-in-law, an auntie, a friend, a runner, an employee, a writer, a singer, a mama to Bella. The parts that make up the whole of our identities are so important – not so individually - but more as a whole. When any one part overwhelms the others, an imbalance can occur and that can be trouble. At least for me.
In my 20’s, I was a total workaholic. I felt so engaged and so invested in my role, that I didn’t think I could be out even for a day. When Scott and I got married, one week away for our honeymoon seemed excessive. Crazy, right? But that’s what happens when you’re trying to climb the ladder and you’re a perfectionist. The passing of my mother-in-law served as a huge life lesson for me. I knew she didn’t have much time, but I was trying to “wrap up one more thing” at work and then “I’d get right home”. Too late. I still tear up to this day, 15 years later, when I think about not getting home in time.
Going back to school in my late 30’s to finish my Bachelor’s was another life lesson. I was suddenly juggling a new challenge: writing papers, reading to truly comprehend, participating in a classroom setting, and public speaking. I thrived with this new challenge and really enjoyed learning again. I also made wonderful friends and learned as much from them as I did from the instructors. But as a true perfectionist, I wanted A’s. Yes, I’m that student.
Running also began in my 30’s and, to this day, is one of the best things I’ve ever started. Again, I made room in my daily life to add a new activity. Full time job, school at nights with homework during weekends, and running. This introduced a whole new lifestyle, as I had to place an importance on my running as much as I did on my job or my latest research paper. With running, there was no grade. No pay increase. More importantly, my reward was less stress, fewer pounds, leaner muscles, and a newly discovered confidence.
For the first time, I felt truly balanced. No longer were all my conversations with friends and family focused on work. I was now energized by conversations focused on my latest class, a paper I was knee deep in, a road race I’d just completed, or a new friend I’d met on a race course. I think it made me a better person.
When I find myself out of balance, I tend to revert back to the old days and focus on that one thing that doesn’t feel right. By doing that, I risk missing all of the goodness that the good stuff still has to offer because I’m so focused on whatever feels broken. I don’t think I’m all that special in that I would venture to guess lots of people react this way. We want to fix what’s broken, right? We want to be perfect, right? Fortunately, nothing’s really all that broken and (gasp) none of us will ever be perfect. But the 40’s are showing me that I shouldn’t waste time obsessing over my identity, but rather spend that precious time nurturing it through my own dance.