Three months later, there have been ups and downs but I’m still standing.
Let’s start from where we left off. I had decided to run a 10k in November, and almost immediately after I published that post I injured myself. After some rest and a few changes to my running style, I was back to normal. Or so I thought.
Two weeks before race day, I injured myself once more. This time I had strained a muscle on my foot close to my Achilles, which was caused by too much uphill running on the very day I celebrated running 10k for the first time without stopping. Fate is a cruel mistress. I rested for a week. My foot was still not healed, so I rested for another week. The Friday before the race I tried to run but only managed about three kilometres before having to walk back.
I was physically very upset with myself, even though the circumstances were out of my control. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t will my foot to get better by Sunday. Yet, despite knowing this, I still felt disappointed in myself for not being able to reach the goal I set. I started spiralling, and thinking the worst. What if my foot never healed? I wouldn’t be able to run the half marathon in April. Then I got even more upset thinking about the people I was letting down, because I was meant to run the race with my running partner and my host parents. I was a mess on that walk back.
Later that day I got checked out by a doctor, to make sure everything was okay and my injury wasn’t anything serious. Luckily it wasn’t. I was advised not to run on Sunday and not do any exercise for a week or two to ease the swelling. I was still bummed out about the whole situation, but knowing that it wasn’t a major injury made me feel a lot calmer. I would eventually get better and could start training again towards my main fitness goal: the half-marathon. In that moment I chose the empowering narrative; one that would allow me to overcome this hurdle that was thrown my way. I may have been injured, but that was because I had ran 10k, which was a new accomplishment for me and I am very proud of that. I may not have been able to run the 10k race I wanted to, but there was another one I could do in February. Which gives me loads of time to work on my pace… and who knows? Maybe I’ll complete the race in February with a new personal best.
I write a lot about having a positive mindset, but I know how difficult it can be to do that instinctively (like above). My mind naturally went to the worst case scenario when I first realised I couldn’t run, but after taking a step back and taking a pause, I was able to react in a more constructive way. So don’t be too hard on yourself if the same happens to you. Development is a work in progress.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
My Spanish is still improving… poquito a poquito. Though, I did realise about two months in that I was becoming complacent and wasn’t being as proactive as I could have been or had planned to be. I was still going to my lessons, and communicating in Spanish to the parents but it wasn’t enough. I felt like I was doing the bare minimum and I knew within myself that I could be doing more. Yet, I wasn’t.
I wasn’t challenging myself for many reasons; I was afraid I would make mistakes, that no-one would understand my accent or that I simply wouldn’t be able to carry on the conversation. This fear paralysed me when I was out and about, and I would limit myself to saying simple things like ‘okay’ and ‘thanks’, even though I knew if I just let go of the anxiety I would be okay. Of course, this was easier said than done.
So I started small. I started to order for myself rather than pointing at the menu. I introduced myself to new people I was meeting. I ordered a taxi for myself and made small talk during the journey (!) Since then, I’ve started to make a more concerted effort to have meaningful conversations with my host parents and Rosie (the housekeeper). These small acts of bravery have made me more confident with each interaction. I’m still not 100% over my fear, but I feel it will go away the more I practice and get more fluid with my speaking. So I’m taking advantage of every and any opportunity to speak more with people and hopefully by my next update I will be speaking with greater ease.
I celebrated my birthday since my last post and it was tough. It was the first time I was away from family and friends, and even though I’ve made new friends out here and I’m living with a family who treat me like I’m family. It just wasn’t the same. I felt really homesick during that time and I was just about ready to jump on a flight back home and call it a day.
I’ve always seen stuff online about all the good things that can happen on a gap year or when you’re travelling, but you don’t always see the downside. I’m guilty of doing it too, I’ve been posting pictures and videos on my social media, and it looks like I’m having the time of my life (and to an extent I am)… but I don’t post about the times when I’m feeling miserable. Which I think is an equally important part of the experience that should be shared. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows (there’s a lot of rain where I am), and it’s okay if things aren’t always okay. When I’m feeling particularly down I reach out to my friends and family, and that really helps to ground me when things get overwhelming.
Being away has definitely made me realise how much of a homebody I am. In the sense that I am happiest when I am surrounded by friends and family. I love being abroad and having new experiences, but at the same time I will always be happy to return home.