May the wind be at your back.

Earlier this week, I met up with my sister for lunch. She is my oldest sister, 9 years older to be exact, and this age difference has shown me that sometimes you do become wiser the older you get, while on the other hand, we often share the same struggles and challenges no matter where we are in life.

We spent the hour discussing self-motivation and finding the will to push through busy times. It could be a homework assignment, cleaning, taking care of those you love, going to meetings, or a variety of other things. And depending on the point you are in life, you may have to work a lot harder than you thought you even could. It can especially bring you down when you see others around you making it all look easy, and when you know you are capable but for some reason you’re having a hard time continuing at full power.

As we discussed all of this, I realized this: self-motivation can be an extreme struggle (which I understand because of all of my procrastination), but even when that may be happening, we are never without a team.

Last week, I went to a midweek training in which, as usual, we had to run for about 15 minutes to start the workout. I really, really loath running. However, it is very gradually getting easier. I still struggle though, and have often been at the end of the pack. This time, the director leading the training was running around the track with us, and when I fell behind, he stayed right behind me. I couldn’t see him, I couldn’t even hear him, but I knew he was there. And even though I wanted to pass out and dump water on my head, I kept going because I didn’t want to disappoint him or myself, and because I knew I could do it – just a minute left, just a lap more, just a few more steps. The worst part was each time we passed the water fountain, but I kept going with him behind me.

Though that is an example of physical exertion, I think it applies well to self-motivation and the difficult times we can face in life when it feels like so many things are piling on top of our shoulders. To motivate oneself is certainly its own matter, but more often than not, we have people behind us urging us to push on with just their presence and there to be the wind at our backs.

For the Illini 4000, it’s my team members and directors that encourage me to keep training no matter how hard it gets, and who work with me to fundraise when it seems impossible. At school, it’s my friends and peers who struggle through homework with me or who talk with me about all of the challenges and ridiculous schedules that college brings. When it’s a personal struggle or fears about going into the real world, I can always count on my family to help me through or to simply be my support.

Moral of the story, if you’re fighting a sickness, raising a family, trying to survive days at work, preparing for that daunting exam, trying to finish a million things in a matter of hours, or even just wondering what the heck you’re doing with your life, remember that there are thousands of others likely with the same problem. Then, think of your support system. No matter who they are or what they may or may not understand or know, I’m sure they’ll be willing to be the wind at your back. They’ll be your motivation when you can’t be it for yourself.

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