I need a Villian to Blame for my Misfortunes

After a freak accident caused Lundagård’s student life columnist Philippa Scholz to no longer be able to run her first marathon, she had to deal with feelings of anger, disappointment and frustration. As she came to terms with what had happened, she realised that there was no one she could blame for her misfortune – not even herself.

I need a constant underlying stress to feel like I have a purpose. It’s not great for my blood pressure, but it does result in me pushing myself out of my comfort zone. So, in true Philippa fashion, instead of celebrating when I sent off my master degree applications at the start of this year, I went through a mental checklist of projects I could work on while I waited to hear back from universities.

At the time I was interning in Cali, Colombia, and I was finding it hard to exercise with the heat, urban pollution and unwanted attention from men. I wasn’t happy with the way I was feeling in my body and knew my fitness was at an all-time low. And because I love a dramatic ‘they turned it around’ story, I felt that the only logical option was to find a goal that would push me as far as possible from the state I was in. Predictably, I went for the classic ‘I signed up for a marathon with no experience’ route.

And just like in a film, I set out on a beautiful journey of trial and error. There were lows like having shin splints which had me out of ‘training’ (if we can even call it that after the second run), to the highs of smashing goals like running from Malmö to Lund. I could almost hear the dramatic film score playing in the background as weeks turned into months and the Berlin marathon drew closer. 

Then, like a scratch in a vinyl, the music stopped with just about as much force as the door that smashed into my foot. Two sprained toes later, it was clear that despite months of training, the marathon was off the cards. I was truly gutted.

While I dealt with my grief, I looked for someone to blame, to ease my anger. First I thought about my flatmates who had left the windows open which resulted in the draft that then swung the door into me. After a few seconds, I thankfully realised how ridiculous such an accusation would be. How could they have known? I quickly moved on to the next person I could get mad at– myself. Could I have reacted faster? Caught the door with my hands? I also quickly came to realise that too was an unhelpful accusation.

With only the elements to blame, which clearly wouldn’t get me very far, I was left to self-reflect. It struck me how quickly I had jumped to self-soothing through pointing fingers. I had never realised that I had such an ugly quality to look for a person to channel my anger towards. On reflection, I saw my pattern of finding a Disneyesque villain to hate in different scenarios throughout the years. Perhaps this was the universe teaching me a much-needed lesson in self-soothing. I was forced to sit with the realisation that sometimes shit really does ‘just happen’.

Turns out it’s not just a slogan on a t-shirt after all.