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The Dying Art of Showing Up
It might not be cool to care, but let's do it anyway.
As she rounded the last corner of the route, an ill-placed hill standing between her tired feet and the finish line, determination was written all over her face. Suddenly, joy layered on top of the determination as she was greeted by the cheers of her friends on the edge of the track. Christina finished her second half-marathon with a smile on her face because she showed up.
When was the last time you showed up for something? Not just physically, where your body walked through a door, but mentally, too. A time when you decided to commit, and even when your internal voice of resistance told you it was too hard, you showed up anyway. A time when others maybe even mocked you for your discipline, but you valued your principles too much to stoop to others’ lower standards.
Showing Up Is Hard
There’s something deeply meaningful about showing up. Unfortunately, our society seems to be actively undermining its value. I read a Twitter thread the other day about Gen Z’s tendency to avoid taking anything too seriously. As I reflected on myself and my peers, its accuracy struck me. Just the other day, I was assigned a group project in class and I was looking forward to studying our topic. But, I stopped myself from telling my group because I was afraid I wouldn’t “look cool,” whatever that means. For some reason, we’re afraid to take our classes too seriously. Perhaps it’s because taking something seriously means showing up, and showing up is hard.
When Christina started training for the half marathon, she knew it would be hard. She hadn’t run long distances like that in years, and she would be training during the winter in New York. If y’all have never been to New York in the winter, here’s a summary: Snow. Often. Cold. Always. She knew that to show up in St. Louis for race day in April, she’d have to show up day after day leading up to the race. Those of us who know Christina know that she’s not afraid of showing up. In fact, it’s woven into her character. She shows up to run, she shows up for the organizations she leads, and she shows up for her friends. I’ve spent many a phone call with her, asking for advice about what’s next in my life, and even in her busiest seasons she always makes time for me.
Showing Up Isn’t Just About You
That’s the thing about people who show up as a habit, not just when they feel like it: they’ve cultivated the discipline so it’s not just about them, but it’s about others, too. When you can show up, without fail, for a 10 mile run on a snowy New York day, you can show up to a stressful meeting prepared for meaningful conversations. You can show up for a friend who needs a shoulder to lean on. You can show up for an employee who has to take extra time off. You can show up for your family when they need you most.
The neat thing is, when we show up for others, it strengthens our resolve even further. It’s like compound interest: the more we invest in others, the more our own reward grows. It spreads, too. As a friend of Christina, I’m a more disciplined and giving person because of her example. Her other friends say the same. It’s why a whole group of us showed up in St. Louis on a Sunday morning to cheer for her as she came around that last corner of the track. She showed up to train, showed up for the race, and always shows up for us, so the least we could do is show up for her in return. Not only was it rewarding to see her face light up when she saw us, but it also inspired me to recommit to showing up in the areas of my life where I’ve let society tell me it’s okay to not care that much.
Where have you failed to show up when you know you should? Where have you let yourself off the hook from showing up for others? It’s never too late to show up again. The other good news is, you don’t have to show up for 13.1 miles on the first day. You can start with one mile. For that matter, you could even show up with ten steps. What matters is to start showing up, and when you keep showing up, you can go faster and farther each day. It’s okay to start caring deeply again, even if your peers call you “cringe” for being excited about a group project. It’s their loss, not yours. Once you’ve started building your discipline back up, you’ll find it easier to show up for others, too. The world needs more people to show up like Christina. How about you choose to be one of those people this week?
Journal Prompt of the Week
When was the last time someone showed up for you? How did it make you feel?
Share with the Community
What’s the one thing you’ll do this week to start showing up?