Challenge Yourself


It’s been a long, long time since I’ve challenged myself. (Shopping ban excluded, that is.)

I’m very lucky that I’m good at a lot of things. I’m also very good at knowing what I’m bad at, and equally good at staying far, far away from those things.

It’s one thing to try something new. I am all about trying new things and stretching myself and expanding my skills. But if I try at something and fail, I tend to be super gun-shy about it for… well, for too long.

I don’t like being not good at things.

One would think that means I just try harder at what doesn’t come easily to me till it does come easily to me. That would be logical, and rational, and practical. However, it seems that I am none of these things when it comes to my weaknesses. This, obviously, means I’m comfortable with being comfortable. It’s time to change that.

Fortunately, I have a supportive workplace that encourages me to pursue new opportunities and take advantage of projects that help me develop new skills. I have a healthy habit of indulging in my creative pursuits (this blog being one of them!) and am always working on creating or writing or editing something. Mentally, I’ve got my challenges covered. It’s physically where I run into some challenges (and as anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while, that should come as no surprise).

I’ve wanted to be able to run for a long time. Even back when I was dating my ex-boyfriend and proclaiming I’d never run (he was a cross country runner and always tried to get me to run with him), I felt like it was something I’d love to do… if only I were good at it.

Well, hard to be good at something I never did. I started running for about six weeks last summer, but it got hard to keep running regularly when I was on the road so much at the end of the hot months. I stopped as a result, and I never started again. Part laziness, part fear, mostly “well, I was never a good runner anyway” culminated in my never lacing up my sneakers again. And that’s not okay.

So, I’ve started running again.

I’m not going to lie: so far, starting to run again has been as sucky as it has been rewarding. But that’s to be expected, because I’m out of shape and practice and when did anything challenging in life ever come easy?

But I know eventually, it will get easier. It may never get easy — although I’m open to the idea of it becoming so! — but it will never be as hard as it was when I was too afraid to challenge myself and try.

I Should’ve Gotten a Library Card Sooner

DC Library Card

I have vivid memories of my mom taking my brother and me to the library each week when we were little kids. I was a fast and avid reader; I could never get enough trips to the library. I’d pore over the bookshelves where my favorite book series were shelved (The Babysitters Club, Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, etc) and if I spotted titles I hadn’t yet read, I’d add them to my pile of books immediately. In elementary school, I’d sometimes spend recess in the library reading books or asking the librarian if she would be able to add my name to the hold list for books I wanted to read. Wonderful memories of libraries and library books are sprinkled throughout my childhood.

But somewhere, that all changed. I stopped checking books out at my school library sometime in high school, mainly because I found myself not having the time to explore new reads and craving the familiarity of rereading my favorite books whenever I did have the time. In college? Forget it. The (little) time I devoted to reading was to assigned reading for my classes. I hope to never read as little as I did when I was in college, honestly.

I got a Kindle when I was in college, and that helped with my reading. I bought all my Kindle titles, though. I will always adore my Kindle, because that means I can take all my books with me wherever I go. But it’s expensive to constantly buy new books, especially when one can finish a book as fast as I can when I make the time for it. So I found myself reading in spurts. I’d read a slew of new books in a few weeks, and then not pick up a book for weeks after that. When I looked at my Goodreads profile, it made me sad to think of all the wonderful books out there I hadn’t yet read because I didn’t manage my reading time well.

It wasn’t until embarrassingly recently that I discovered I could check out ebooks from my local library AND I lived very close to one. When I put two and two together, I immediately signed up for a library card. Why I waited so long to sign up to READ BOOKS FOR FREE, I have no idea. But I signed up for my card and within hours, I successfully borrowed my first library ebook, Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites. I also placed a hold on several popular ebooks with hundreds of names ahead of mine.

I finished Burial Rites a few days after I borrowed it, and then decided to download two more books. As I searched the DC Public Library website, I realized that the majority of the books I wanted to read were already checked out by others. Fearful that I’d be in a position where ALL the books I wanted to read would be on hold, I put my name down for 15+ books. With that done, I went back to my borrowed ebooks.

Then my inbox was flooded with emails saying that my name was next in line for this book and that book and in the span of 72 hours, I found myself in a situation where I’ll be reading 10+ books in the next three weeks, or my borrowed titles will be automatically returned because technology. That’s more books than I’ve read in that span of time since… elementary school? And back then, the books I read were shorter! And I had more time! And I wasn’t doing VEDA!

I may have gotten a little carried away at the prospect of being able to read so many of the books I’ve wanted to read for so long for free. (Just a little.) I mean, yeah, I can always renew them. But apparently if there’s someone on the hold list after me, I have to sign up for a hold again and wait till the book cycles back to me so I can continue reading it. That just will not do if I’m in the middle of a book, so I need to read them all!

Maybe next time I should go easy on going on a book hold placing spree at the library. And remind myself that I’ll never be truly without a book, because there’s always the option of rereading the books on my Kindle that I actually own.