"Stars can't shine without darkness."
A friend of mine, Mike Wacker, recently posted an article about campus suicide and the pressure of perfection. It was an eye opening article with one major aspect that stuck with me. In the article it’s referred to as Penn Face. “An apothegm long used by students to describe the practice of acting happy and self-assured even when sad or stressed…” The face that we show to our friends and family through social media. “Friends’ lives, as told through selfies, showed them having more fun, making more friends and going to better parties. Even the meals they posted to Instagram looked more delicious.”
As I was reading this portion of the article I reflected on how I portray myself on my social media outlets. While the photos, posts and links are a genuine representation of myself, they are one dimensional. The positive, happy, beautiful side of my life. I choose not to share my worries, setbacks and upsets. I choose not to share the “ugly” or unpleasant side of life. I rationalize this by telling myself I don’t need to publicly “complain” about the negative things happening in my life. And while I think bitching and complaining through social media is lame. I think there is a constructive way to share a multidimensional life on social media the way you would in a face to face conversation.
When going through my post history, I can tell when things were going really well, versus when I was having a hard time. Frequent posts shared my joys and happiness and when the posts became infrequent it was due to a lack of inspiration and happiness to share. If you asked my friends to describe me in one word it would be positive. I believe this to be a genuine part of my character. For the most part I can always see the light in things. I keep this in mind when I share parts of my life on Instagram and/or Facebook, choosing to share only the happy and positive things. I am afraid to share any other part of my life for fear of seeming negative.
Very few of my friends share multiple sides of their life and when they do it rarely seems constructive. More like a quick rant/vent, usually about someone else. Shelby, a friend from high school, breaks this trend regularly. Her post share her life dealing with MS. The good, the bad and the ugly. I enjoy reading her posts, and seeing her pictures! I don’t know why it is so hard for me to do the same thing.
In an effort to change the trend of putting on a face, I will try to periodically share a “real life post”. Starting with this one.
As almost none of you know, for reasons stated above, I have been sick for going on 3 months. Slowing my training and eventually stopping it completely. It started out with a nasty cold that put me on my ass for a week. That cold turned into pneumonia and bronchitis. I recovered from that just in time to have my wisdom teeth out. Shortly after that I contacted strep throat. It couldn’t just be regular strep, it had to be penicillin resistant strep. About 3 days after I finished the 10 day course of penicillin, the strep came back and I went through another course of antibiotics only to find out that they prescribed me the wrong one and had to give me yet another round of antibiotics. In all I have had 6 full courses of antibiotics in the last 2 months. Ironically I have been taking the best care of myself I ever have, eating healthy and focusing on functional strength training. Yet this is the sickest I have ever been.
The problem is, that being sick isn’t the hard part. It is what it is. Not training is another story. I have lofty goals in racing this year and those goals have been all but shattered. As I got sick with one bug after another, the time continues to tick away. The events on my calendar move closer and the mileage I want to reach become less and less of a reality. The bottom line is I don’t have enough time to build my mileage at a safe and healthy rate to reach my goal by November. All of this is a nice little recipe for depression. A quote from the article: “In what is described as depression and experienced as emptiness, futility, fear of impoverishment, and loneliness.” At one of my doctor visits, I let my PCP know that I have stopped my training in an effort to reduce stressing my body. She said, and I quote “Oh great! You’ve stopped stressing yourself physically and traded it for mental stress!” Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
So what now?! I have 15 weeks until World’s Toughest Mudder with minimal training behind me and not a clue when I can start over. I am most certainly depressed and my only known cure is exercise. I am looking for what I am supposed to be learning from all this, trying to see the silver lining. I feel so very trapped in an endless cycle, moving excessively fast towards race day.
What is my answer? Do the best I can. As Sean Corvelle often reminds us at the Tough Mudder start line: “Nobody is better than your best, but your best will make you better.”