What do people say about you when you are not in the room?
I don’t actually mean gossip. This is about the question how you are being perceived by others, what they see as your particular traits, what you stand for in their opinion.
And what happens when you change? In marketing thoughts like these allegedly help with developing ideas. That’s called ‘personal branding’. When I thought about that my first thought was: “What do I care about other people’s opinions? I am me.” But whether you want to or not you have to know how others perceive you if you want your message to reach the right people. Even if you don’t want to sell anything: It’s the same being a teacher really. You can’t expect effort from your students if their tests keep sitting on your desk for five weeks without you correcting them. Just for example.
For years, when I showed my face somewhere I had this feeling that the first thing anyone thought about me was: “The athlete.” I don’t even know if that is really true. What’s important though is: I thought that was the case. I was the triathlete, the Ironwoman. Sure, it’s wonderful when people congratulate you on a win, ask you for training advice or have any other kind of compliment for you. But at some point I had the feeling I couldn’t escape that role anymore.
What happens when you stop doing something that majorly determined your life? Do you lose a piece of yourself?
For example, when you stop going to school, stop going to college, stop working or: stop doing triathlons.
First people are confused and have to get used to the new development. I already heard people say: “She can’t do without, watch.” According to the Sartre principle: Hell is other people.
“Now she’s even writing.” “What’s that supposed to be for?” “When does she actually want to get to that? She already has a job.” “There are enough books already.”
To be honest: I really didn’t ever hear any of those sentences. And even if they had actually been said or just thought: In the end they would only show how others see me and not what is actually right for me. So, the principle should actually be: Hell are your own thoughts through other people. For the longest time I didn’t want to admit to myself that it wasn’t the fear of other people’s tongues wagging. It was really my fear of losing a part of myself if I didn’t identify as a triathlete anymore. “You, without triathlon? You’re out of your mind!”
It wasn’t actually the people who were confused and had to adapt to something new. It was me who was confused.
And let’s be honest; not really very many people are interested in you.
That’s good and bad news at the same time. Now, I had to get used to my new identity, and frankly I won’t be done with that for quite a while. In Buddhism a “sense of self” or “identity” doesn’t even exist. But that is a different topic. If you’re interested, I’ll write something about that sometime.
I had actually been dreaming about becoming a writer for a very long time. Not just one time as a little hobby but many books. But then I always thought: The day only has 24 hours. What with work, family and triathlon that won’t fit in. At least that’s what I told myself.
Now that I am telling everyone that I wrote a book (something that was mind-blowingly difficult for me when I first started: It is frowned upon to make yourself the center of attention), I hear from a lot of people they, too, have been wanting to do just that but they are lacking the time. To that I can say: To write a good novel takes the same amount of time as Ironman training. At least that! So, you either do it or you don’t and do something else instead. And that’s ok. But please, no whining. I actually seriously got on my own nerves with that attitude. I really recommend: It doesn’t hurt to start earlier than I did to do your own thing.
If you want to do something in your life, then get on it, will you?! Or admit to yourself that you just like to dream a bit. That’s nice, too. For me, at some point dreaming just wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to write my novel before the coffin lid clapped shut on me.