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You Must Keep Your Pace Even

Quiet Revolutionary Rupa Pereira’s Story

While working overseas in Singapore over the last 2 years, I had quite a full plate. As a hands-on mom of high-energy girls—and between balancing a post-MBA career, expressing my altruistic self as a volunteer at church and school, and fundraising for social justice—I could barely catch a breath.

My social interactions took a hit. I would get snappy, irritable. I was in the driver’s seat and driving everyone up the wall. Not pretty, to say the least! The outcome? You guessed it: burnout. The introvert in me screamed, “You need to get away from everything.” But I couldn’t just pack my bags and say goodbye—it’s just not socially acceptable for a driven, working professional. Instead, I chose a safer approach: getting away every day, running for 30-45 mins, my running shoes on and earphones plugged, lost to the world and immersed in my iTunes playlist and TED podcasts.

Initially, my runs started as a physical workout with an outward focus on improving my fitness and stamina and releasing those endorphins. But slowly, as I started to relish the solitude, focus switched inward, and I learned to be aware. What did I become aware of?

My breathing: Regulating my breath and watching my strides helped me go the distance in my running goals.

My surroundings: This meant literally stopping to smell the roses, soaking in awe-inspiring sunrise/sunset views, and feeling a sense of kinship with my fellow pedestrians, bikers, runners, or just about any human being.

The music: Every track spoke to me, be it Pink’s “You’re Perfect,” One Republic’s “I Lived,” or Demi Lovato’s “Confident.”

Listening to myself: I was finally paying heed to my introverted self and the voice of reason.

Once I became more aware, I discovered the following about myself:

  1. I’m no energizer bunny.

  2. I’ve accomplished a LOT, but I’m not savoring my victories.

  3. My inner critic is on overdrive.

  4. Life is short, and time is the only currency that matters.

  5. I have to change course, and I have to do it NOW.

I recall the time when I got my “wake-up” call while running through Singapore’s picturesque Marina Barrage, stopping in my tracks to make sure I wasn’t hearing voices.

Here is what ensued post my wake-up call: pausing my career, resettling family back to the US, resting the mommy-guilt, and adopting a minimalistic lifestyle.

Running at an even pace, on my terms, while not competing for the top prize, gave me a chance to discover my true calling and embrace my human, vulnerable side. Running with a purpose gave rise to a movement RunForHOME, supporting the efforts of HOME—an NGO that attends to the needs of migrant workers in Singapore. This year alone, RunForHOME raised $15K as more runners joined the tribe.

Much like an energizer bunny’s, my battery would run out some day, so I’d much rather conserve energy for causes that really matter than regret that I never could.

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  • Sara

    Rupa- thank you for your affirming story. I have only just learned at the age of 62 that I am an introvert. The liberation and sense of permission to be myself-which I am slowly discovering- has been earthshaking for me. My family had one paradigm: extroversion. So I am now recovering my true self and breathing in relief. Stories like yours are my affirmations. So much to discover!!