AN OPEN LETTER TO MYSELF (AND ALSO TO YOU)
Yes, it’s me: world famous athlete and marathoner Jeremy Owens. That is the most ridiculous sentence I’ve ever written, but it felt incredible. Maybe it’s the tinniest bit of a fib, but welcome to America at the beginning of the 21st Century (ie The End of Days), that’s how we do it here. Why be coy? Who cares about truth? You gotta reach up and claim your crown and grab whatever else you can for yourself before we’re all hiding in a fallout shelter wearing gas masks and rationing out cans of peas.
So what if I just ran my first marathon. I have been transformed. I’m a marathoner now, which basically means I know everything and have really great advice on how you can get your shit together and live your very best life. I mean … Have you run a marathon this year (or ever)? Didn’t think so. Wow, you know, for the first time in my life I understand why you all have gone to the trouble of giving birth and I’m borderline disappointed I don’t have any children of my own. What is the point of running a marathon or anything else for that matter without children to hold it over.
Luckily, I have you.
I wasn’t out there running your grandma’s marathon, NO! I threw myself at the mean streets of New York City in the New York City Marathon, which PS is THE LARGEST MARATHON IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. That’s right, now that I’ve completed my 26.2 I like to try to slip the word MARATHON in as many places as I can and as often as possible. Marathon. Marathon. MARATHONNNNNNNNNNNN. I might have blisters on the bottoms of my feet, no toenails and severe hip pain, but I’m still thigh deep into a runner’s high which means I’m full of feelings and also pretty confident I’m a motivational speaker, so buckle up.
I see you out there struggling to get by, unsure what your purpose is, nervous about your next move. First? Pick your marathon. That is to say … WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Think about it. What is it? What is something you really want? Maybe you want to be a chicken farmer, collect stamps, or sleep with a prostitute before your 80th birthday. I don’t know your life, but for goodness sake pick something. Whatever it is you want doesn’t need to be monumental. I didn’t start out wanting to run a marathon, I just wanted to have something to keep me semi-healthy, occupy my time, and distract me from thinking about how we’re all gonna die.
Whatever your marathon is, and this is a judgement free zone here, YOU CAN DO IT. Honestly, whatever it is you can literally just do it. Look at me, for instance, I’m just some dumb hick girl from Arkansas who grew up on a rice farm and now I’m living in gorgeous Chicago and flying off to NEW YORK CITY to run marathons. What that means is anything is possible. Don’t get your panties in a twist focusing on being the greatest chicken farmer in all the land or how you don’t have your Oscar at age 7½. No! Start small. Do one thing today that gets you one step closer to your chicken farm.
Like how about you get yourself down to the chicken store and purchase a damned chicken. It’s exactly like what you’ve always been told: the greatest journeys start with one step. That first step is going to be a doozie, but keep taking steps, keep moving even if it hurts. That great big farm of yours is going to come later. You can’t do and have everything all at once! What’s the fun in that!? Be patient, we’ve got to work up to your dreams ONE STEP AT A TIME.
Once you know what you want, get a plan. That doesn’t mean run out to Barnes & Noble and buy a set of encyclopedias to do research, or spend your entire life savings buying a chicken coop. In fact, please don’t spend one thin red cent on anything other than the basics. Were you paying attention during the Wizard of Oz? YOU ALREADY HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED. Your goals don’t require rocket boosters or $900 shoes. Use what you have to get started. Take a little visit to Doctor Google and check out what other people in your situation have done. I had been running for two years before I signed myself up for a marathon and even then, I had no idea what to do, so I googled it. It’s THAT SIMPLE and it costs nothing! What I found there was a marathon training plan.
Before I had that schedule in my hands I was running around like a lunatic full of anxiety worried about what to do. A clear plan will calm your nerves and give you direction, so you can focus on fun things like stretching and watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
A plan means you’re in deep. It says you really want to win, which is great since now you need to devote every breath of yourself to getting what you want. Winning, just PS BY THE WAY, doesn’t mean first place. It’s not necessarily the trophy, though those are super sexy. Winning is having fun. It’s putting yourself out there and trying something new. Winning is doing the work, being relentless in the pursuit of your goal, showing up for yourself and not giving up, NOMATTERWHAT. Winning is the act of doing what you though you could not do.
Do you know how many people quit? (SPOILER ALERT: BASICALLY EVERYBODY) The world is full of would be Oscar winners, and chicken farmers, and almost marathoners who couldn’t hack it. They all wanted too much too fast and quit to be accountants, or Wal-Mart clerks, rocket scientists, or whatever was easier. If you keep going even when it feels useless or hopeless, I promise you it will pay off in some way. AND … if you wimp out and quit I will show up at your bedside in the middle of the night and shave your head (FACT).
Here’s the thing though. This kind of determination will freak people out, so get focused because the haters are coming for you. These fools are going to jump out of every direction, and some of them are going to be people you thought were your friends. They’re going to say you’re crazy for wanting a prostitute before your 80th Birthday, your chicken farm is a dumb idea, and you can’t possibly run a marathon because the most athletic thing you’ve done is live tweet a White House press conference. Well, tell everybody to stick a sock in it. You don’t need anybody’s permission to be who you are, so remind them you didn’t ask for their opinion. It’s also at this point that you’re probably going to have to pull out your compact, take a long loving look into your beautiful eyes and tell yourself to shut the fuck up. So kick everybody who can’t handle your rise to the top to the curb if necessary. You’ve got a goal to achieve and you don’t have time to wrestle with naysayers or negative thoughts.
Speaking of people, they can be the worst, so don’t waste your time comparing yourself to anybody else. You are a precious gift. Who you are, what you offer, how you write and talk and exist in the universe is perfect and a delight. Nobody has what you have, nobody else on this great big burning ball of garbage has your story, your beauty, your passion, or your talent for … I don’t know … whatever it is you do. So quit acting like you’re not special. Somebody needs what you have. Somebody is DESPERATELY WAITING to receive what you’ve got. Know that. You owe it to me, the person next to you, the room you’re in, and everybody on planet Earth and beyond to deliver 100% pure unfiltered YOU without fear, without apologies, without second guessing. We already have Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and as much as I’d like for us to have 999 more … we don’t need them … we need YOU.
Finally, of all the people in our lives, we are often the least kind to ourselves. You’re not too old or fat or gay or weird or short or tired or depressed or blonde or scared or skinny or brown or enthusiastic or big or bold or silly or whatever it is you’re saying to yourself. I already said you’re perfect and we need you, what do I have to do RUN ANOTHER MARATHON?
If I learned anything last week while running longer and harder than I ever have in my life in front of half of New Yorker City it is that life is a marathon. It’s LONG and SUPER FUCKING HARD. It’s a hell of a lot longer and harder than any of us are giving each other credit for, but we can all make it if we put in the work. Whatever you’re going through, somebody has it worse, so cheer up and be grateful. Everything is going to be OK because weather you know it or not there are a lot of people waiting for you to win. So when you get down and troubled, think of everyone on the sidelines standing just beyond the barricades jumping up and down screaming for you to get what you want. Sometimes it might be hard to picture them, but they’re out there. I PROMISE. I KNOW, BECAUSE I AM ONE OF THEM. I want you to win. I really do. AND … if you can’t find anybody to cheer for you … come find me I love yelling.