What Perseverance Means to Me

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By Lexy Vreeland

Well, we made it to 2021. I think if we learned anything in this last year it’s perseverance. Life has a way of testing us. Just when things seem to hard or impossible, we find a way to overcome and grow. To me perseverance is the ability keep moving forward, even when times get tough. I believe personal growth occurs during tough times and times of adversity. The path to my goals has not always been easy, but I persevered.

runner with medal after a raceGoal setting becomes very important during times of hardship — it’s the cliché “light at the end of the tunnel.” Keeping my goal in mind — whether it was preparing for a body building show, training for a marathon, obtaining a new job, or becoming a nurse practitioner — has helped me get through the hard times. Working in the ICU and emergency room as a behavioral health RN during a pandemic while being a student has been a challenging. At times, it has felt like a juggling act, but I survived. I persevered and am stronger because of it.

I can relate a lot of life struggles to running a marathon. I have been running since high school. I have run in the historic Grandma’s marathon multiple times as well as numerous half marathons. I attribute my dedication and mental toughness to this style of training. A marathon is not easy and sometimes, it’s not even enjoyable. I ran a marathon one year on an 80-degree day here in Duluth, MN. I remember how hard that was… it was never that warm in northern Minnesota in early June, so I had not trained to run distances in the heat that year. I could feel the sunburn on my shoulder and the blisters on my feet. I had a great pace for my first 13 miles and then the heat caught up to me, but I didn’t give up. This was not my best or fastest race, not even close, but the moment I crossed that finish line brought me to tears.

I had never felt so proud of myself, for that was by far the most mentally and physically challenging thing I had ever done up to that point in my life. There were so many times during that four-hour run that I wanted to quit or walk over to the medical tent to drop out, but I didn’t. I knew I had the physical ability to finish the race, based off of my hard work and marathon training. It was my mind I had to convince, not my body. By mile 14 I swore I’d never run another marathon again, but at mile 26 with the finish line in sight, the crowds packed along the course cheering for all the finishers, I knew this wasn’t my last race. My eyes began to swell, and the feeling of joy and accomplishment took over. Needless to say, that was not my last race. However, during that race when times got tough, I thought it might be.

Just like in life or in school we persevere by continuing to keep pushing forward whether it’s one step at a time or one class at a time. I made it through the first year of my doctorate program! I just took it one step at a time. I did my best on each assignment, which turned into each class, then each semester. The small wins allow me to keep my head up and move forward. Giving 100% and my best effort to each class gives me the feeling of accomplishment with each assignment I turn in, which helps fuel my fire to continue to learn and be successful.

Successfully reaching a goal is the reward of perseverance, whatever that goal may be. Success doesn’t happen overnight. It comes from hard work implemented over time, which requires perseverance. The key to success is to simply never give up.

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