Life is a Marathon

Life isn’t a race. It’s a marathon and all you have to do is just keep going. I was reminded of this lesson one New Year’s I spent in Montreal about 11 years ago.  

I was 24 years old and a year and a half into dancing but inside I’m still the insecure 16 year old kid. But I finally have enough confidence that I can go to a Latin club on New Year’s Eve with my best friend. As we went into the club, I could see that my friend was nervous and I wanted to make sure that I took care of him. He didn’t know Salsa or Merengue or anything- but I did. 

We got into the club and I asked a girl to dance. We started dancing and it was awesome. It was awesome because inside of me was still the old Aleks. The Aleks that couldn’t hold a girl’s hand properly because his hands sweated too much. He was overweight. He was insecure. But now I’m dancing with this girl, a total stranger in a different city and she’s smiling. And she’s vibing with me. It was such a confidence booster!

I’m turning my head as I’m dancing with her occasionally to look at my friend. I give him the look that says, “see you can do this as well” and he’s smiling as we finish the dance. I could see that my dance partner was also interested in me, which is incredible. Like that’s never happened to me in clubs and now this beautiful girl is interested in me. Even though I didn’t feel the same way I shook her hand, and said thank you.

And I walked over to my friend, I said, “Hey dude, you can do this!” And he did. He started dancing and I continued dancing as well. It was incredible and the night was going really well for both of us. At 11:00 PM, an hour before New Year’s, my friend approached me. “Hey Aleks, wouldn’t it be amazing, wouldn’t it be so special if each of us got a single kiss for New Year’s?” 

I was smiling from ear to ear, filled with confidence; “Yeah, man, let’s do this!” 

So we started dancing. And by 11:30, he found someone that he vibed well with. Internally, I was kind of proud. I took care of my friend and now he has found a girl with whom he can share a New Year’s Eve kiss. Job well done! 

But for me, I was dancing with lots of girls but I’d be into them but they weren’t into me or vice-versa. I just kept getting mismatched. We’ve all had it happen. Five minutes before New Year’s, I’m desperate! The waiters were handing out glasses of champagne and giving two glasses to all the couples.

Everybody was paired up, my best friend was paired up and I felt like the 16 year old Aleks again – insecure and alone. The waiter walked up to me, and looked at me with pity in his eyes and handed me a single glass of champagne. 

But I looked at him with the eyes of the tiger. I was not giving up. I looked at him and said, “Give me a second glass.” He paused and silently questioned me. And I repeat again, “Give me a second glass.” He gave me a second glass and I started looking around. The only single person I can find is that first girl who I kind of rejected at the beginning of the night. 

But at this point I’m desperate.

I didn’t want to miss my time and the New Year’s Eve bells to ring without me having a partner. This was my time. I had to do this. 

So I walked up to her and I was embarrassed and a little bit ashamed. I had my tail between my legs, but I looked at her, extended the glass of champagne and said, “Hey, listen you’re by yourself, and I’m by myself…why don’t we spend the New Year together?” 

And she looked at me and assessed the situation. She looked around to all the other people. Everyone was paired up and I was literally the last man on earth for New Year’s. She obviously came to the same conclusion, looked up at me and said .”No thank you. I am good.”

The pain that went through me was if I got electrocuted, as if I stuck my finger in an outlet. So painful! But behind her eyes, what she really said was “Dude, I’m not gonna be your plan B.” I look back at that and realize how remarkable that level of self-love and confidence is.

But at that moment I walked away with tears in my eyes and two glasses of champagne in my hands. And as the bell rang, I was by myself clinking my two glasses together and drinking both. 

Almost immediately my best friend found me. And he hugged me because he saw what happened. And he made me feel better.

But the bigger lesson from that night was the one the girl taught me. We are all going to have our time, and it won’t always be when we want it, but we’ll get it. 

Since that time in Montreal, I’ve had New Years that I have spent alone and New Years that I have spent with someone special but it doesn’t matter.

Life is a marathon and I believe in my heart as long as you keep going, as long as you keep going, you can have what you want. You can have the relationship, you can have the health, you can have the dance moves. You can have the career, the freedom, the adventure. You can have it. You can have it. You can have it. So just don’t stop. Don’t stop. Go out into the world and you can have it, it might not always be at the time you want it, but I believe in my heart, you’ll get it when you need it.

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