And Now You Know

“Nothing will work unless you do” – Maya Angelou

Today, as I crossed the finish line and completed my first 5K in Battery Park, I heard Maya Angelou’s voice in my head: “Nothing works unless you do.”

She was right. But I wish I had known this a bit earlier in the week. Let me back up some.

Every night this week I have cried myself to sleep with the fear of the unknown. I felt that things weren’t going as smoothly as they should at work, on social media I was seeing close friends pick up new jobs at impressive news organizations and I had an upcoming 5K race that I was terrified for. BTW, it’s critical to know that I’m not a runner in any sense of the word.

The week required me to make important decisions. Yet I couldn’t because every decision could take me down a path that led to more uncertainty. Every decision could end in a potential slip-up that I couldn’t bear to face. For example, if I pitched a story to my editors that I was excited about, it could be turned down. Or if I started going to the gym this week to prepare for the race, I could find out that I wasn’t in good enough shape to run three miles by Sunday. I opted instead to not make any decisions and to just wonder what the outcome could be for every scenario.

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My colleagues and I after completing the race in front of One World Trade Center. | April 23, 2017

It went on like that for seven days. I’d stress myself out, think about what I should be doing to move forward and then go to sleep doubtful. Being suspended in uncertainty, though uncomfortable, feels like an easier route than knowing for certain and not liking the answer.

On Sunday, after days of doubt, I finally made my first decisive decision. I decided follow through on my commitment to run the 5K. Granted I didn’t want to nor did I feel prepared. I definitely didn’t feel adequate enough. I was going to be racing against my peers, several of them who regularly run 5Ks and had even run a marathon or two. Meanwhile, my daily existence consisted of just trying to make it through three miles on the treadmill.

But of all the things I had questions or doubts about this week, I felt the most urgent feeling of knowing if I could actually run three miles or not. Could my legs and decision and sinew carry me through my first 5K? I had to find out – tepidly.

Because even as I stood in line waiting for my wave to be called, I still hadn’t fully convinced myself that I’d run the full 3.1 miles. I left myself an out as to shield myself from disappointment. I told myself it would be good enough to just finish the race and not run it the full way. One way I did that was not really telling people I’d be running the race. I just said I had Sunday morning plans. And when my friend who was running with me asked what my goal was, I said, “To finish.”

But in my head it was to run 3.1 miles. Not walk. Not stop. But fully and with all my heart run in. I wanted to prove to myself I had the fortitude to follow through on something I said.

As these thoughts raced through my mind, the herd of runners with their bibs and headphones started to move forward. I joined along with.

Very early on, I lost sight of my friends. They had darted right past me. So now I really had to finish the race so I could find them at the end, after we all finished. I’d see bobbing heads in the distance every once in a while. But soon I saw no familiar bodies. For the most part it was just my thoughts and I during the run.

By myself, in my head, I told myself that since I started the race running, I’d finish it that way as well. I wasn’t yet brave enough to let others know that was my goal yet.

I ran around the pier and past Chinatown and toward the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Then the path took me past police officers and cheerleaders lining the route and rooting us on. I ran past strollers and walking participants that was a good reminder that I was pushing myself, no matter how exhausting, out of my comfort zone. I kept running even when every muscle in my body told me to stop, slow down, rationalize that it was alright to go half-way. Accomplish some of the dream but not all of it.

As soon as I let those thoughts in my mind, my side started to hurt, I felt dehydrated and my pace slowed.

It’s a lot easier to convince yourself you can’t do something than exert the effort to make it happen. It feels easier not trying than knowing what you’re capable of. In the end, though, the paralysis created by the fear of failure hurts much worst than the actual failure.

This is because when you don’t try, you’ll always wonder what you are capable of doing. Once you attempt to do something, even if you fail, you know your limits and what it takes to go to the next level.

Jordyn, just keep running. Maybe you’re almost there, I told myself and tried to push the compromising thoughts out of my system. I said I’m running this whole thing and that’s what I’m going to do.

I had no idea how many more miles I had to go. About 10 minutes before my side started hurting it said I’d made the two-mile mark. I had to be done soon, right? I had one more mile or so and if it really got bad, well, I’d stop then.

Finishing the race was enough for my first try, right? 

At this point, my arms were barely pumping back and forth. The sweat on my forehead was just dewy now.

Then I turned a curve.

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Seconds after completing my first 5K race. | April 23, 2017

The blue finish line was right there. I made it work. I let out a deep breath. I kept running. I kept breathing. I kept to my goal and crossed the finish line, having run the entire time.

I guess all that really stood between me and that finish line was completely throwing myself into trying something new. Now I know.

From My Golden Year to Jordyn Year

“I’ve failed over and over in my life and that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

As a young kid, I knew that I would be a full-blown adult when I turned 22. That was the year that I would have achieved the wisdom, intelligence and confidence to properly navigate the world, I thought.

It was also the year that would be my “Golden Year.”

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Celebrating my 22nd birthday on Feb. 22, 2016.

When it comes to birthdays I’m a very meticulous person. So when I learned about the concept of a Golden Birthday – the year that you turn the age of the date you were born – I made it my goal to make that the best year ever.

I had February 22, 2016 marked on my calendar for at least ten years. I knew I would throw a party where I would wear a gold dress (gotta keep with the theme, ya know) and there would be gold balloons and the song “Living My Life Like It’s Golden” would play as I walked into the room. I achieved 2.5 out of 3 of those goals (Party City only had one gold balloon for me).

And after that party, would commence my best, most adult year yet. And as most of us know, you can’t always will your dreams into realities.

To be sure, this past year hasn’t been to shabby for me.

I graduated from the University of Southern California with a journalism degree that I truly cherish (thanks to all those articles written and hustling done), I made the cross-continental move from Los Angeles to New York, I continue to be surrounded by friends from my college life as well as high school years — and this can’t go without saying, but I have a full-time job in the exact field I wanted on in.

It’s weird though. Now living through this phase of my life that I had carefully planned for the better half of my existence. I think with that kind of pressure, it’ll never truly live up to what you imagined.

There’s a lot that I still haven’t accomplished nor have a grasp on. I still rely on my dad’s email reminder telling me to pay my Citicard bill. I still text my mom complaining about going to the gym in the morning, secretly hoping she’ll give me the OK to just keep sleeping. Navigating a national newsroom is a whole different ballgame than growing accustomed at your college newspaper. I traded in warm weather for the harsh winter wind as I walk to the subway in the morning. I still don’t really know how to cook.

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Yup, 22 isn’t what I thought it would be. This week leading up to my birthday has felt weird. I’m afraid I set way too high of expectations on this past year, and scared that nothing else can come from this next one. Is it possible that someone can reach their peak during their Golden Year?

Melodramatic as that is, in this world of social media, where you live and die by the double taps on a picture, it truly can feel that way.

But as I write this now, on the eve on my birthday, I’m realizing that’s not exactly the case.

My 23rd year on this earth will be a good one. Maybe sometimes you can will your dreams into reality.

This year, there’s no golden-themed party. No golden balloons and I haven’t even ordered a special dress. Most people at my work won’t know that it’s my birthday tomorrow. Luckily, for me, my parents sent me a card. They at least remembered!

I’m going to use this year as an opportunity to create something out of nothing, however. Each birthday leading up to my Golden Birthday held some outside significance. There’s the Sweet Sixteen, 18th birthday and of course 21st one. But what comes with year 23?

It’s going to be my Jordyn Year, a play off of the Michael Jordan themed one 23-year-olds claim. Many people dub it that because the Chicago Bulls player wore that number during his time with the franchise and made the number legendary.

I’m going to now re-claim the number and make it my own. I mean, come on, it was almost destined to be celebrated as my own special year once more (thanks Mom and Dad for the name). This year, I’ll set new goals. Not ones based off of societal expectations, but ones that I want – ones I need – to accomplish to get to the next step. I don’t have the safety net of college or the dictated steps of childhood anymore. Nope, I’m out here in New York making my own path.

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And that’s what I’ll do.

It’s my Jordyn Year – the year where I will set new goals for myself, ones that I never thought I’d want to achieve. I’ll accomplish those goals that scare me to death.

Here’s to 23 Goals:

  1. Drink more water
  2. Run a 5K
  3. See all of New York’s boroughs (I’m coming for ya Staten Island & the Bronx!)
  4. Get interviewed on Bloomberg TV
  5. Learn how to make a five course meal
  6. Go to gym at least three times a week
  7. Speak up more in meetings
  8. Feel more comfortable styling my hair
  9. Pitch more stories
  10. Read more books that weren’t meant for me
  11. Go to more museums
  12. Call my grandmother more
  13. Give myself more credit
  14. Remember to pay my credit card bill
  15. Go to church more regularly
  16. Do 50 hours of volunteer work through Bloomberg
  17. Spend less time on my phone and more time talking to people
  18. Fully catch up on Grey’s Anatomy
  19. Visit Los Angeles at least once
  20. Go home to Chicago at least twice
  21. Feel comfortable asking for what I’ve earned
  22. Go a whole week eating Bloomberg’s soups for lunch
  23. Don’t lock myself out of my apartment
  24. Remember to look back on these goals on February 22, 2018

Setting goals is a scary process, achieving them can be even more daunting. But I’m in it to win it.

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And like the original Jordan said, “I’ve failed over and over in my life, and that is why I succeed.” Not everything has to be perfect, but I have to make life worth it.

Time to get started. Ball’s in my court.

#JordynYear

Quote of the Day

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” IMG_9807.JPG— George Washington

On this day we celebrate the birthday of America’s first president George Washington. This celebration has morphed into a celebration of all U.S. presidents. I spent this holiday weekend surrounded by good friends from college. Ones who I have spent close moments with and intimate memories. Grateful to be surrounded by them and to share a birthday with America’s first president.