New lows after reaching a major goal

The feeling is hard to explain, and is best experienced

By Purva Grover

Published: Thu 8 Jun 2017, 9:54 PM

Last updated: Thu 8 Jun 2017, 11:56 PM

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 get inspired to attempt training for a short run (not a half marathon), and needless to say, the words lived up to the expectations.
However, what got me thinking were the last few lines written by runner. She 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 probably 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 high-lighted how quickly the fleeting post-win high gets replaced with a lingering sense of loss. Loss of a mission, or purpose. Her words got me thinking of all the times when I, too, had put in hours, weeks, and sometimes months to achieve a feat, and was 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 (recollection of an event from last month). After three months of dialogue learning, rehearsing, and slipping in and 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 do. 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 was worried what would I do next? Of course, there were things to be taken care of (especially, the ones I'd been 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; latter is called the post-series depression.
Of course, both don't require much of our muscles and we do find a way of coping with the empty feeling, which does subside with time. However, the question lingers on: you did it! Now what?I'd never thought that meeting a goal can lead to a depression of sorts: post-competition, as the experts call it. An ending, even if beautiful, may not be celebratory.
The feeling is hard to explain, and is best experienced. Look closely and you, too, may find yourself in similar situations - hoping that your efforts to make a memorable birthday, training for a run, or a favourite show last a lifetime. What can do the trick in such a 'down' period? Repeat.

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