Georgia Hulls will be the first to agree there's a resounding correlation between accomplishments in life and a sense of knowing who you really are.
Hulls is blissfully aware the transition from high school in Hawke's Bay into her formative years at Massey University in Auckland has kept her in pace with the powerful strides she has been making in the high-octane, all-weather athletics tracks around New Zealand and overseas.
That is not to say, metaphorically speaking, the 19-year-old from Hastings has surged to the finish line with her chest out in the quest for personal development — far from it, actually.
The former Havelock North High School pupil is mindful those who have taken their marks from the starting block of life before her know only too well how uneven the strides can be in upending conventional wisdom.
"One thing I've definitely learned is to take the days off when they're due and not to push through when my body's not right," says Hulls who is embarking on her first World University Athletics Championship at Napoli, Italy, from July 3-14.
Unlike other years there's no sense of harbouring guilt for the first-year accounting degree student.
"I think it definitely comes with maturity," she declares with an air of authority that endorses the teenager doesn't need society's permission slip to sidestep her responsibilities. "At this point it's the little things that make the difference."
For Hulls the 30th edition of the university worlds will offer an exciting platform to engage in a multi-sport environment and the biggest sporting village she will have ever encountered.
She is, after all, a former World Youth Championship and Junior World Championship veteran.
The Hastings Athletics Club member will compete in the 100m. Her personal best time in 100m is 11.71s but she hopes to whittle it down to 11.5s come the business end of the championship. She'll also compete in the 1 x 100m relay race and the 4 x 400m one.
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"I've got two more chances at this meeting so it'll be very good experience," she says "Ideally, I' like to run around 11.5, which could be the finals depending on other times."
To put Hulls' time in perspective, it pays to know Zoe Hobbs, of Stratford, holds the 100m New Zealand women's record after smashing it at the Allan and Sylvia Potts Classic in Hastings on January 26 this year.
In doing so, the 21-year-old eclipsed Michelle Seymour's time established in 1994 on home soil with an 11.37s sprint but the Auckland-based athlete is still one-tenth of a second outside the 1993 mark Seymour set in Melbourne.
"I train with her now," says Hull. Both come under the tutelage of James Mortimer, of Auckland.
"I've only ever been coached by my dad but it's surprisingly similar and seems to be working well," she says of her father, Dean Hulls, who is a sports co-ordinator and mentor in the Bay.
Georgia Hulls suspects she is mutating into a 200m sprinter but, it seems, she'll eventually become a 400m specialist. Her personal best time for that umbrella-handle distance is 23.65s but it's another senior women's record Hobbs holds, stopping the clock at 23.19s on a 1.8 wind-assisted track in Canberra on February 10 this year.
"I think while the times are still dropping it makes it easier to stay at a shorter distance but, if anything, it'll help me in the 400 in the long term."
So why isn't she in the 200m heats for her country in Napoli?
"There are only two spots and three people qualify," she explains. "I did qualify but the two other girls were faster."
However, Hulls reconciles that with the knowledge she still has two more chances to make the university worlds, staged every two years, during her five-year tertiary stint through Massey's academy of sport.
You feel her sense of liberation when she reveals attending lectures and tutorials, in becoming adept at balancing books for a living later in life, is symptomatic of that maturity she's alluding to.
"I'm really enjoying studies at the moment and, I think, it's something non-athletic to sort of think about so I'm finding that quite interesting," says Hull who trains every day, bar Sundays.
Oh, of course, the lure of the summer Olympic Games is always there but Hulls just doesn't want the glare of expectation to blind that ambition.
"In the long term, that'll be great," she says assuredly. "I've just got to take those little stepping stones and this is just only one of them."
A member of the New Zealand Oceania squad, Hulls reckons her next step will perhaps be the 18th edition of the IAAF World Championship to be held in Eugene, Oregon, in the United States, in 2021.