Earlier this week I did a running-related photo shoot. It was fun. It was amazing. It has been so long since I did that. I don’t mean that it’s been so long since I did a photo shoot. I mean, it’s been so long since I had fun. Certainly not like that.
The shoot was running related, so we did these amazing shots that were about running, stretching, pausing. Then we came across a water spray park. It has been many, many years since I went into one and played. So we took a couple extra photos in the spray park and it was FUN. I got soaked (obviously). Buckets of water got dumped on me. I stood next to fountains that would periodically spray upwards/sideways/down. I lay down on the ground and got drenched. While I had a fantastic time for the whole shoot, the other parts were for a purpose.
I had to ask myself afterwards, when was the last time that I had genuine, silly, happy fun? That I played in complete silliness and laughed in all openness? It’s been a while. Longer than I would have liked. When did that happen, and why? Both what caused it, but also why I let it happen?
Positivity can only do so much. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by so much it is just more than we can handle. That is different for every person. Maybe one person can carry the weight of the whole world and another person can only manage one disaster at a time. All of those are legitimate and reasonable. We cannot all be expected to be identical and we cannot all expect ourselves to handle more than we can manage. As soon as we compare ourselves to others, we lose track of what we CAN do and our own successes.
I’m sure I’ve used this quote before, but I love it and it is applicable in so many situations: “Run your own race”. I’ve read about a runner who only does 5k races. He’s super fast. He does a 5k race every weekend and runs most days of the week. He loves it because he goes faster and he has the entire day afterwards still. I’ve read about ultra-marathoners who can run 160km or run for days. It works for them because they like the extreme endurance. They like pushing further each time. Both of those are very different, and I fall into neither category. Somehow I’ve become super unhappy with myself, because I run neither as fast as the fellow who does the 5ks, or as far as the lady who does the ultras. I am not running my own race. I am looking at the races that others do (their own races), comparing myself, and found myself lacking. Then being unhappy with myself for not being able to do what they do.
Except that, I find that prior to hitting the 4k mark, I struggle running. After that, I hit my stride and remember how much I love it. So 5ks aren’t as appealing to me because why would I spend 80% not enjoying it? And I’ve never registered for an ultra nor am I trained for it. I have not been training for an ultra. Why should I be disappointed in myself for not doing something that I am not ready for? I need to run my own race, and realize that whatever the distance I run is, that is an accomplishment on its own for me. It is my work and effort and struggle, and there is no reason that I should be any less than thrilled with what I can do.
Now, to explain myself more, apply this thought to other facets of life. Apply it to ALL other facets of life.
What would life be like if all I did was compare myself to everyone else? What would it be like if I looked at everyone else’s circumstances and saw their successes and saw only my failures (what I believed were my failures)? I would stop having fun. I would draw away from the people who care about me (or push them away). I would drop the ball on recreational things I love, like blogging and running. I ran a marathon a month ago, and what I focused on was that my time wasn’t better than the last time I ran one. In that sentence right there, I am acknowledging that I have not only run a marathon, but TWO. Instead of being overwhelmingly proud of myself, I was disappointed in myself. I wasn’t running my own race.
I love this photo. This photo is amazing with the lighting and the water and the timing. I love it because I can also clearly see my knees and shins. They are covered in scars and bruises. I have gotten those from running. I have fallen while running, either from clumsiness or seizures. And what did I do in those situations?
I got up and kept running.
The rest of those runs may have been a struggle. The rest of those runs may have included me trying to convince the people that I am with that I’m fine. The rest of those runs may have just been to get home and take care of myself. Whatever it was, I got up and kept running. I have scars and bruises to show it. I got up and kept running. That is me running my own race and knowing what I have to deal with, and keeping going. That is me having fun.
So next time I am overwhelmed, I’m going to let it be because of my own things. Not because I’m comparing myself to what I think others have. I am going to run my own race. Run yours. We can celebrate in a spray park afterwards.