Last evening, I read an article written by a marathon runner. She spoke about training, sacrifices, milestones, diets, competitive spirit, et al. I’d picked it up to feel inspired to attempt training for a short run (not even a half marathon), and the words lived up to the expectations. However, it was her last few lines that got me thinking. She’d signed off the piece with the thoughts that rush through her mind after crossing the finishing line. You’d assume these to revolve around the body crying out for help, vows never to run again or joyous runner’s high moments. Instead, she spoke of a feeling of incompleteness; of not knowing what to wake up for, the next morning. She spoke of a recovery period, not as much for the body, but for the mind to deal with the end. It gave the impression as if the win, in comparison, didn’t mean much, and highlighted how quickly the fleeting post-win high gets replaced with a lingering sense of loss.
Her words got me thinking of all the times when I too had put in hours, weeks and months to achieve a feat, and then left struggling with a void when it was all over. I found myself standing on the stage taking a curtain call with my cast and crew; a recollection of an event from last month. After three months of dialogues learning, action repeats and slipping in (out of) costumes, we’d staged our production to a full show — three runs in three days. Something that we’d never imagined, we could. With the sound of applause in the background, we bowed and left for the green room — feeling exhausted, but also wearing an expression, which said — what next? We congratulated each other, bid goodbye, and left. No sooner, had I reached home I was flooded with messages, which reflected the mixed emotions that were running through my head as well. I too was worried about what would I do from tomorrow evening, during rehearsal hours — of course, there were things to be done (especially, the ones I’d be ignoring to make time for theatre), but that wasn’t the answer I was seeking.
It is tough to disengage from a routine and perhaps tougher when it involves a goal, a passion. In a broader sense, it is also the same feeling you experience when you reach the last chapter of a book or the last season of a Netflix series; the latter is called the post-series depression. Of course, both don’t require much of our muscles and we do find our own way of coping with the empty feeling, which does subside with time.
However, the question lingers — You did it! Now what?
I’d never thought that meeting a goal can lead to a depression of a sort, post-competition, as the experts call it. An ending even if beautiful may not be celebratory is hard to explain, and is best experienced. Look closely and you too may find yourself in similar situations — hoping to make a memorable birthday, training for a run or favourite show last a lifetime.
What can do the trick in such a ‘down’ period? Repeat.