Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Whether I know you in person or not, I am proud of you, even if only for trying.  I concentrate on being supportive, motivating, and encouraging to others, as well as genuinely happy for others’ accomplishments.  I was once so very guilty of comparing myself with others, and I strive today to not do so.  This is not to suggest that I never engage in this comparative behavior, because I do, and that is clear in many of my other written ramblings, but it is something that I continually work to correct in myself.  Comparison is a damaging habit, not only to your own well-being, but it can also potentially leave a ding in the contentment of the other individual (the victim of your analogy).  Until recently, just yesterday in fact, I was unaware that I was the object of comparison; when this tidbit came to light, it irked me, and here is why . . .

(Were you on the edge of your seat with wonder, distressed that I was not going to provide further explanation?)

Yesterday, a woman with whom I work, I will call her C, had just returned from a walk outside at about the same time that I was making my way back to my office from my Monday gym session.  (Word on the street is, you should never skip a Monday.  Challenge accepted; I ran 7 miles.  BOOM!).  C happily reported that she was already at her 10,000 steps for the day, and Leola stated that she (C) and Miss Amy are putting her (Leola) to shame (I’m “Miss Amy,” btw).  C proceeded to state that I likely get 20,000 steps a day, and Leola reiterated that we are working on two different journeys and reminded her that I am training for a half marathon.  C then indicated that it is easy for me because I am 20 years younger than she is, and that is what annoyed me.

Why undermine my drive, my hard work, and my commitment?  On days that I get 20,000 steps, it’s because I push myself and then I push myself harder and then I push myself just a little bit more.  Do not diminish another’s progress in order to build yourself up.  If you are unhappy with 10,000 steps, then push yourself to take more steps.  If you feel unfulfilled with your work in the day, then do more work.  I may be 20 years younger than C, but there was once a day when running 7 miles seemed like merely a pipe dream.  Several years ago, I was still 20 years younger than C, and running even .25 miles nonstop was an immense accomplishment.  Although I was left feeling unfulfilled with that .25 after a while, I did not compare myself with someone who could run longer, nor did I encapsulate their abilities: he’s younger than I am, she has more time than I do, he has a more natural athletic ability, and so on and so forth.  The excuses for not performing as well as somebody else are endless, but it should not matter how you perform compared with another.  There is a lot of truth to the quip, “Compete with yourself, not with others.”

So, since 2015-ish, I have been counting calories, going to the gym, running, running, running, and running some more, drinking more water, working on my food related choices and behaviors, pushing myself . . . In other words, I work damn hard, so. damn. hard.  So, I do not take kindly to my weight loss or my step count being credited to my age.  I can only assume that C is not happy with where she is at, but that did not give her an appropriate cause to minimize me, more specifically, where I am at in my own journey.  For the record, there is an 80-ish year old man (that is 50+ years older than I am) who absolutely smokes me every year at the Safe Voices 5K.  So, you see, C, MY age has little to do with YOUR performance.

I am well aware that soul searching is burdensome and that it is painful to be truthful, particularly when we feel that we are falling short and have to admit to ourselves that yeah, this one is on me.  I sat on this encounter all of yesterday afternoon and evening before writing it up this morning; I thought it of the utmost importance to analyze why this bothered me so.  Why am I so sensitive to this remark?  Am I justified in my feels?  What I’ve concluded is that . . . I am justified to feel any sort of way that I want to about it.  My feelings are my own, and they are valid whether someone else “gets” them or not.  However, I usually do make sure that my perspectives aren’t fueled by hanger, and in this case, they most definitely were not.  I was (am) sensitive to her remark for exactly the reasons that I outlined: I work hard, and I did not appreciate my hard work being surmised that it is easy because I am 33.

So, I urge one and all to just . . . STOP.  Stop comparing yourself with others for any reason . . . whether it’s a number on the scale, a distance you’ve run, the size of your residence, the make and model of your car, your marital status, your parental status, the brand of your clothes, your level of education . . . just STOP.  Instead, engage in self-reflection, and keep it just that: SELF-reflection.  When I began to self-reflect as a means to counteract my nature to compare, compare, compare, I learned several key points, and here they are . . .

(Were you on the edge of your seat thinking that I was not going to share them with you?)

  • Comparison is the thief of joy.
  • I am exactly where I am meant to be, and I have two options while I am here:
    • a) be happy where I am while I work on bettering my situation and / or myself
    • b) be miserable.  *The latter will assist me in the accomplishment of . . . being miserable.
  • Sometimes, someone else just wants it more.
  • A lot of work remains ahead of me.
    • Although I fully understand that when I compare myself with others, I am allowing my joy to be thieved, I have yet to learn how to keep others from pirating my joy.

 

*Note(s):

  • I referred to C as such because her first name begins with a C; this letter selection was not to imply derogatory name calling.
  • Most days, I do not achieve 20,000 steps.  So, C’s comparison is based solely on her own assumption.
  • Larceny is a Part 1 crime.
Advertisements

But Am I For Really Real?

A fleeting thought as I sit at my desk . . .

If I update my blog while I’m working, am I technically being paid to blog?  If so, does this make me a “real” blogger?

I have the tendency to downplay every. single. thing. I do or am involved in, whether it’s professionally, athletically, or even pertaining to my hobbies.  I delineate a “real” blogger as an individual who is either paid to write or has a large following.  I consider and describe myself as an amateur blogger, which is accurate because:

noun

  1. a person who engages in a pursuit [ . . . ] on an unpaid basis.

adjective

  1. engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional.

 

However, does being a dilettante in a given element make the dabbler or their participation any less “real” in comparison with those who have garnered more experience?

When I am recognized for working at the police department, I am often asked if I’m an officer, and my response is typically, “I’m just a crime analyst.”  When I have spoken fondly of a colleague who is a fellow long distance runner, I have, on more than one occasion, stated, “But Sandy’s a real runner.”

I have a habit of devaluing myself; it is a behavior that I regularly exhibit, but I have recently begun to notice just how prominent this trait is.  During an afternoon stroll with Leola, a co-worker who I have befriended over the years, I discussed with her exactly what I have drafted above.  “That’s a character flaw.  You don’t have many, but that’s one of them.  You can quote me in your blog.”

So, today marks the day that I attempt to alter the impression of myself I have left on . . . ME.  I’m a real blogger.  I’m a real runner.  I’m not just anything.  I’m real because I’m present, I’m trying, I’m doing.

download

 

Soul searching is onerous.

Mainely A Stereotype

I reside in a small town.  Not only do I live in a small town, I live in THE stereotypical small town.  Think: Mayberry combined with Cheers (yeah, the bar) ’cause my residential township is quaint, peaceful, and the locals know everybody’s name (exception: seasonal tourists, but many of the locals are nosy / social so they know the tourists’ names too!).  So, for the sake of my privacy, all the while giving my home a name, I shall refer to this quaint land of familiarity as Cheersberry . . .  or Maycheers . . .  or . . .  ORRRRR . . . I will use these interchangeably.

I have various run routes established.  There’s one route that I like to do either very early in the morning or later in the evening because 1.5 miles in, I reach a very small beach, and to witness the sunrise or sunset there is breathtakingly beautiful.  Plus, there’s the added bonus that if it’s a wicked hot day, one can jump in the lake for a little swim!  The picture I have does not depict the rise or set of the sun, but it’s still a glorious view, even at midday.  Also along this route are fellow Cheersberry residents who have become familiar with me and will oftentimes whoop words of encouragement or offer me water.  The Friends on the 4th 5K is mapped along “downtown,” but there is a portion of the run that is residential; many people sit on their lawns to cheer and lightly spray runners with their garden hoses – this is my favorite!  The garden hose incidence is less frequent during one of my “regular” runs, one that isn’t a big to-do / event, which makes it even more special if it should so happen, and once in a while, it does.  Small town livin’ is the tops!  . . . at least for eight months of the year.

Narrows

Summer is now in full swing, and the tourists have come from near and far!  Adding to the small town stereotype, the locals are not always so fond of the tourists, and by this, I mean I am not so fond of the tourists.  The environment changes when the out-of-towners flock to Maycheers in gaggles.  Just last week, I was pushed around and rudely cut in front of at the farm stand, and all of the commotion was caused by non locals.  When running, the out of state cars do not move over to share the road; in the last few days alone, my Radin and I have had several close calls with vehicular modes of transportation.

Yearly, I am prepared for the sudden change in environment at the grocery store and other shopping venues.  What is typically a friendly and patient setting becomes a climate of superiority and brouhaha.  When it’s the off-season, patrons of the grocery store chatter with one another as they wait in line, say “excuse me” if they need to reach something that is in another’s personal space, and offer to help those who may need helping.  Now?  Now, it’s a free for all.  Overall, the from-awayers are impatient, crashing their shopping carts into others because they’re ceaselessly using their cell phones, they loudly insinuate and make certain that we, the townies, are aware that their vacation time is valuable and that they cannot be bothered to wait, and the number of people that aggressively invade personal space is utterly galling.  My intent is not to generalize because I am certain that there are just as many delightful vacationers in our area, but I’m just indicating that the poor behavior is noticed.  I can adjust to the sudden influx of strong personalities, but what I tend to have difficulty acclimating to are nightly fireworks and unleashed dogs.

I love fireworks, but I much prefer them when they are appropriate.

  • Q: So, when are they appropriate?
  • A: Holidays such as the 4th of July or New Year’s, and on Friday or Saturday nights should the desire be to launch the works of fire just for the pure sake of doing so.

I wish beyond all measure that my town ordinance did not change, that fireworks were still banned and illegal.  The nightly fireworks wreak havoc for the wildlife, not to mention the pets who are terrified of the loud noises and riddled with anxiety over the ruckus.  *I am not a parent, other than fur babies, but I imagine that it is exceedingly arduous for those with babies, toddlers, and young children.*  The late night annoyances are also not appreciated by those of us who get up at 0400.  I understand that many of the temporary residents are on vacation, and I acknowledge that they should enjoy their vacation time, their relaxation time but not at the expense of those who live here full-time, year-round.  Cheerberry is not The City That Never Sleeps; we sleep . . . or at least, we used to.  I’m not requesting that the fireworks and drunken carousing cease altogether, I just ask for the commotion to wrap up at a sensible time.

Finally, leash your dogs!  How do I know that the offenders of the leash laws are out-of-towners’ dogs?  Just like with the humans, the locals, especially those of us who are actively outside and running about the town, have familiarly with the local yokel puppers.  Sunday evening, I took Radin for a long walk.  *Radin and I are not able to run together because we are equally clumsy and end up in calamitous, though comical, conundrums.  So, when Radin accompanies me, it’s for the slower paced meanderings.*  About a mile from home, during our return expedition, an unleashed dog bolted toward us.  I have no doubt that this dog was friendly, but my Radin and I were recently attacked by an unleashed, not-so-friendly dog, in our own yard.  It is fair to assert that Radin and I are now a little suspicious and mistrustful of foreign dogs that come darting at us.  Stranger danger is real, folks!  I should note that Radin does not get along remarkably well with other dogs as a rule, and because I know this about him, he is always harnessed, leashed, and kept close to me.

During our aforementioned adventure, I pulled Radin close to me and commanded him to stand between my legs.  Because my thighs are much stronger than my arms, I know that I can hold him still and protect him that way.  (Hey, I’ve been credited with saving his life during our attack, so I know that I could (and would) do so again).  We began to simultaneously walk backwards, taking slow and steady steps, but the dog continued to dart toward us.  To my horror, the unleashed dog scampered into the road and into oncoming traffic.  Now, I don’t want problems to arise between this dog and my own, but I also don’t want to see harm befall this visiting dog.  I’m typically the person pulling over and rescuing dogs (and cats and turtles and whatever else I find in the road that needs an assist).  Meanwhile, drivers are annoyed because traffic is slow going – Radin and I were nearly hit by two or three vehicles that refused to move over!  Out of approximately seven passing motorists, only one man stopped to help us.  Coincidentally, the other six vehicles had out of state and out of country (Canada) registration plates, respectively.  The man who stopped to help me, he was a Mainer.  Summer folks, enjoy your stay in Vacationland, but please, consider the residents of your interim abode.

. . . I don’t want to be the stereotypical, vacationist hating, country bumpkin so please, do your part in not turning me into a stereotype . . . just sayin’.

I LOVE ME: Mission #1

Full disclosure: I stole the title.  The I LOVE ME: Mission #1 is a swap that I am currently participating in via swap-bot.  It’s a lovely idea, but it also saddened me that it was so difficult to complete once I sat down to do so.  The gist of the swap is to write a notecard length letter to one partner with a list of five things that I like about myself.  I have yet to write my notecard out, but I brought the supplies to work with me so I can complete it during a break.  The ideas floating around in my head for my five likes:

  • My drive, particularly regarding my goals and aspirations
    • No matter how extensive or how minor my goal may be, I give 100%.  That’s not to say it doesn’t take me a long time to achieve my goals, but I don’t have an ounce of quit in me, despite obstacles along the journey, once I set my sights on something.
  • My unruly, curly hair
    • If I get caught in a rainstorm or windstorm, no one is able to tell that I’m having a bad hair day due to my hair’s natural unruliness.  In fact, my hair is a barometer; I know what the weather is doing even when I can’t see outside, especially when it’s humid!
  • My laugh
    • From what I can tell, my laugh is infectious.  I’ve been known to make others laugh just because I am laughing so hard.
  • I’m fastidious about leg shaving
    • Enough said
  • My eyes
    • They’re big and probably the best example of loving myself despite others’ negativity.  I remember, in middle school, being called “bug eyes” incessantly.  Joke’s on you, you cruel children, ’cause when I traveled to NYC, people were stopping me in the streets complimenting my eyes.

I wonder if the 11 other people who joined this swap also struggled to compose their lists.  If the swap required a list of don’t likes, I’d probably be 100 in by now, and I don’t think that is unique to just me . . .