A Seed Bar and some Ice-cream

This morning I went to a vegan food festival. I anticipated this would be a day of much feasting and revelling in all things non-meat and dairy. However the reality was I was overwhelmed, in the last ten or so years, I have never been to a place before where all food was available to me. No menus to appraise for the one or two (if I am lucky) possibilities, no ingredient lists to look through for likely suspects. This was a place where I could have eaten cakes, biscuits, multiple hot dishes, pastries, salads and so much more. But I didn’t, I had one seed bar and an ice-cream. And this felt indulgent.

I have simply come to expect that my choices will be limited with food. I know that in many places I will order chips and salad and that the salad will quite likely be iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber and some quartered tomato. And this will be served without dressing. I accept this. The way that I eat is not the way that most of the people I know eat. And this is okay too. Everyone makes their own choices with food. However, after the overwhelmingness of the festival, I realised just how much my diet limits my expectations of food when I go out. I guess I already knew this, but today, completely confirmed.

I then started to think if there was anywhere else in my life that my limitations have lowered my expectations? I thought back to what I wrote yesterday, and how I have lowered my expectations in some areas of my life, and it is time to make some beneficial changes. And then I thought about massive changes that I have already experienced and rationalised that it isn’t that I don’t make big changes because I do. It’s that the more changes I make to my life, the more possibility for change I see. The path gets ever wider.

I remember when I was in school about to sit my A Level exams. I could not foresee a time that they would be over, such was their enormity at that point in my life. When I was learning to drive, actually passing my test seemed like such a big thing. Same for my degree, different jobs I have had, and countless other things that I have done extraordinarily well with. So for me, it isn’t actually about me feeling limited, it’s about controlling my anxiety about all the incredible options that are open to me and not being too scared to try. Because if I really want to do something, based on past performance, I know that I can.

Having this knowledge that I can, is definitely a good thing, applying this knowledge? Something much more complex! Knowing that I have done, is past stuff, knowing that I could possibly do? That is the future, full of unknown variables. Learning to trust myself, to have faith in my decisions, that is where I can make progress, that is what will empower me to grow.

When I go to the vegan food festival next year, I will go prepared!

Map Point. What have I done really well?

Limiting my expectations

Bodies. We all own one. They are beautiful and many splendored. However, in the last year, I have found mine has become more contentious. Possibly it always was, but now I want to do more with it, I am more aware of its limitations.

For most of my life, exercise was an endurance. Occasionally I went for a swim which is an exercise that I deeply love, but this was only ever occasional, owing to the faff involved of hair washing and draconian pool schedules. When I have been on holiday I have enjoyed cycling, but as an adult, I have never owned a bike. I have had memberships for multiple gyms (I paid hard for the level of guilt that a seldom-used gym membership can bring), but none of these exercises truly inspired me to maintain any sort of regular exercise, and then I found running.

Since I have begun running I have only maintained a couple of knee and ankle injuries, nothing particularly supreme or interesting. But this is the first time that an injury has prevented me doing what I love, and I was unaware of the level of frustration that this brings. It brings a good deal. I also run with people who are all really established runners. Most days this massively inspires me, some days this frustrates me as I can’t see a time where I will be anything like as good. It isn’t that it matters if I can run faster than others or not, just I am more aware of my limitations.

However, on the flip side of this, a couple of years ago I couldn’t run at all. Well, that is possibly an exaggeration, I could likely run about twenty-five meters then look as if I might require medical assistance. On my worst days now, even with somewhat suspect knees, I can always run between two to five kilometres. I find this theme occurring more and more in my life, I judge myself way harsher than anyone else ever would.

I wish I could isolate the moment in my life where rather than feeling that sense of childlike optimism, I felt a wave of disappointment in myself. Rather than falling down and getting back up to try again, I started setting standards lower to only achieve small things, as the disappointment of not achieving what I really wanted was too hard. Today a good friend asked me what I wanted to be. I am still pondering this, but to summarise my current thoughts – a lot more than I currently am.

Map Point. Where do I need to raise my expectations?