As a track athlete, I always heard the following statements at meets and during practice...
"All the way through!"
"Don't stop before the line."
"Run past the finish line, Adenike."
I heard them the most at practice. My coach would lose his voice making sure the whole team understood the race wasn't over until AFTER you crossed the finish line. Not before. Not right at the line. But 5 to 10 meters after the finish line.
If you or anyone on the team, EVER thought about stopping before the line he'd add another to the workout. Another 100, 200, 400, extra drills, or whatever he came up with you'd have to do it. It was his way of having each of us on the team hold one another accountable to run all the way through and push one another.
So, I got to Atlanta on June 1st and I hit the ground running. I followed up with connections, made new ones, continued to apply to multiple jobs, hired a career coach, kept sessions with my therapist, everything I could think of to get to that proverbial finish line.
But here's the kicker. In life, the "finish line" is what? Death? Shit, I don't want that, so what can the new finish line be? Is there an actual finish line, or does the line move as you achieve certain benchmarks? Is life more like a winding staircase that goes up and up?
As you ascend, each landing is an achievement. You rest there. You see how far you've come. You settle in this space, but as life will have it you set another goal, and you gotta keep going. There is more growth, more discovery, and more support to gain as you ascend to the next landing.
One morning I attempted to run a complete mile. As a sprinter running anything over 400 meters (one lap around a track) was torture. I never had the stamina. On that hot and humid morning in the GA heat, I decided I was going to take my time and achieve this goal that has always escaped me. I started at a steady pace and wanted to see if I could run it without stopping. As I pushed myself up the hills and kept going strong through the moments where I could slow down, I repeated: Don't stop, keep going, push through the line. I heard my coach in my head telling me to run all the way through. Keep the pace. Don't rush.
Then it hit me. This is life. No matter what you are attempting to achieve, keep pushing. Don't stop. Slow down. Don't rush to the end, but focus on each step. Each moment, achievement, hardship, whatever in life is happening. Be present. Also, think about who's on your team, and who would you say is your coach? Who helps you run all the way through? Let's not be so quick to get to the finish line. Because once the race called life is over you want your family to be able to look at all you accomplished with pride and gratitude for everyone who helped you and for all the adversity you triumphed over.
I'm currently still running my life race. Finding my new pace. A lot slower than I'm used to but I'm getting the rhythm and finding my stride.