In late October, I applied to the San Francisco Marathon ambassador program. At the time I applied, I was excited about the possibility of getting accepted–I mean, how cool would it be to spread the word about a great race, encourage the people who were registering for it, and work as an advocate for running and health on a larger platform than this one?
I guess I didn’t realize just how much I had invested in the idea of becoming an ambassador, because when I found out today that I hadn’t been accepted for the program, I was devastated and completely broke down. I couldn’t stop crying for an hour, and although I’m not the type who cries rarely, crying uncontrollably for an hour (straight) is unusual for me. At this point–one episode of ‘Community’; some ice cream; and lots of comforting from family members, friends, and a fiancé later–I’ve regained control of my tear ducts, but I don’t feel much better about the situation. Or myself.
I haven’t felt like much of a runner lately, and I know there was a big part of me that was looking to the ambassador program as a form of validation, some kind of reassurance that I am still a runner, even though I might not always feel like it. But more than that, I was also looking to the program as validation of the fact that I can be an ambassador for this sport, and for health in general. If I could, I would work professionally in the field of health (or specifically running) blogging or writing, or coaching–something that would put me in a position to reach a large number and wide variety of people, and help them to develop a healthy lifestyle that works for them. This is something I’ve always been passionate about doing, but as time has gone on and my career path has moved in a different direction, I’ve started to realize that I might not necessarily ever get a chance to do something like that as a job. That realization has left me feeling like this blog, and the opportunities I can gain access to as a result of having it, may be the closest I’ll come to professional involvement in the field of health. Lately, I’ve worried that this might mean that I’ve failed in some way.
Not having been accepted, and the associated feelings of failure it evokes are, needless to say, difficult to deal with. And the worst part is that the feelings of failure are just the beginning of it–beyond those there are so many things that I start to question, and to feel bad about. It’s far too easy for me (and what’s probably my ED voice) to come up with reason upon reason to explain why I didn’t get accepted:
“You’re not as good a runner as the people who were accepted.”
“You’re not as thin.”
“You’re not as pretty as the other women.”
“Your blog isn’t as popular.”
“You aren’t as popular.”
“They’re faster than you are.”
“They’ve run more marathons.”
“They’ll make the marathon look better.”
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
It never really ends once it gets going. And the hardest part is that I know some of it to be true. I know who some of the other ambassadors are, I know they’re prettier, thinner, faster, more accomplished as runners, and more popular as bloggers. They are better at being advocates and ambassadors than I am–they’ve already proven that to be true through the popularity of their blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and all those other things. And it’s not that I feel like I want to quit because I’m not as popular, it’s just that it’s hard to repeatedly miss out on opportunities and–because I don’t know the exact reasons why–repeatedly tell myself the same story: “It’s because you’re not good enough.”
Before I even knew about the San Francisco Marathon ambassador program, I applied to be an Athleta featured athlete (another program that I think would be amazing in terms of its reach and potential to communicate a positive message). Based on the way this program turned out though, and given my performance in a handful of other things I’ve tried to get involved in over the past year alone (the Run for the Rabbit campaign, being involved with the BeFitNYC campaign, applications to write for countless other healthy living blogs, for example), I can’t help but feel a bit embarrassed for having applied at all. Why did I create for myself another opportunity to face rejection?
Generally, I try to end posts on a positive note, and offer a hopeful message. Right now, though, I just don’t have it in me. I feel like a loser. I’ll keep running, because it’s something I love doing. I’ll keep running marathons, because I love doing that too. But as far as trying to create opportunities to reach a wider audience and share a positive, healthy message, maybe it’s time to accept that for whatever reason, and in spite of my best efforts, that’s just not where my path is leading me.