Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Now, having said that...

I have a confesson to make: I'm used to be the best, or pretty darn near it, at everything.  As a result, endurance sports have caused me no small of distress.

However, I've come to believe recently, very recently, that I need this distress.  As long as I can recognize it for what it is, and take it in perspective, that is.

As I've said before, if you surround yourself with people who are largely unmotivated, unambitious, then you get to be the one that others look up to, which is a pretty shaky foundation for self-esteem. You shouldn't have to have your ego stroked by always being #1.   

I'd gotten used to being "the smart one".  I always explained things to people who didn't understand them.  When I take classes, and the professor says something, people look at me to see what I think.  Wherever I work, people ask for my opinion or for information or help, whether it be with their statistics homework or advice on the DSM.  "Book learnin'" is easy for me.  I played it safe.  I did a lot of what was easy for me; I didn't just get one master's degree, I got three. I stayed away from things that weren't easy for me, unless it was absolutely necessary.  Doing things that don't come naturally to me, or being around others much more talented or accomplished than I, has often been anxiety-provoking. 

For some reason I cannot put my finger on, I suddenly started doing things that are anxiety provoking.  I married a high-achiever, and then cultivated a cadre of friends and acquaintances who are highly motivated and accomplished.  I went from big fish in a small pond to big fish in a big pond full of other big fishes, and then to being an equal among a group of brave, strong, and ambitious people.  In in competitions, I'm at the back of that pack.  It's been surprisingly difficult to get used to.    

I imagine that a large number of smart, successful people get into endurance sports and have the same experience. Some might not even be able to overcome the threatening results of not being even in the top half - they fade away, find something else to do, and avoid that discomfort. They seek only those competitions where they know they will win, and only the company of those who will stroke their ego.   

When they do poorly, they lay blame.  It's someone else's fault.  The event was poorly planned.  My bike mechanic screwed up.  It was so windy out.  My coach didn't prepare me for this...rather than accepting that this is what is.   I know.  I've done it.     

That's what acceptance is, I guess. Accepting a 'problem' without trying to fix it, just recognizing it for what it is, not taking it personally or attaching emotion to it. I can't be the best at everything, but I pretty good at being me, at trying, and at being brave. 

I'm not the best at this endurance thing.  I won't ever be the best.  I'm aiming for middle-of-the-pack.  Along the way, there's every liklihood of DNFs in my future, because I keep trying to do things that are harder.  Doing things that are hard means I might occasionally fail.  The knowledge of that possibility makes the successes that much sweeter . The uncertainty is frightening, and thrilling. 

So this is my current biggest challenge: accepting that I can't always be the best, and that I may fail, but sometimes things are just what they are, and that it's nobody's fault, not even my own.


(I've disabled comments on this post on purpose, because I didn't put it here fishing for assurances of how good or capable or worthy I am. That's my stuff to sort out, on my own, in my head. )


...and I, I have a goal.

Dear Diary, For the first time in 7 years I have a goal. It takes a lot to get me motivated.  I am the demotivation queen.  The princess...