People who aren’t involved in athletics/fitness/movement/sports, or those who are involved but need to think that they are somehow “better” than someone to feel ok about themselves, can have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it’s like for those of us for whom it’s about a personal journey and not a need to compare ourselves with others.
This can lead to things like people’s being completely flabbergasted that I’m proud of an almost 13 hour marathon time, as well as all manner of dumb-assery. For example, yesterday I received a tweet @RobinWilson73
Fran is a cancer survivor who has run over 75 marathons and was running the Boston Marathon as part of a group doing fundraising for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in honor of her husband Stan who has cancer for the third time. Rock on Fran.
So I tweeted back:
Let’s start here: Other people’s journeys and accomplishments, in particular those who live with health issues and/or disabilities, do not exist for the inspiration of others, and it’s important not to engage in inspiration porn.
Some troll using Fran’s achievements in a sad failed attempt to shame a fat person doesn’t cheapen her accomplishments (or mine.) It just shows how pathetic he is, and it gives me perfect illustration of what not to do, as well as the opportunity to extol the virtues of last place, and to talk about the folly of comparison
I’ve played lots of sports in my life and I know what it feels like to have my/the team’s best be enough to win, to get first place. Thanks to this foray into endurance sports, I now also know what it’s like to do my best and lose – where lose means being the absolute slowest out of thousands and thousands of people and/or not finishing at all (and please don’t do the “you’re lapping everyone on the couch” thing because I’m not and that whole concept is super messed up.)
In my naive and ignorant youth I thought that it was the winning that was the accomplishment, being better than someone else. I thought that my accomplishments were only frame-able or valuable as they compared to how other people did.
But when I look back I realize that, even then, I knew that wasn’t true. I knew that I felt more joy, more pride, in my accomplishments when I did my best but lost, than when I played or danced like crap but still won. I knew that the practice was where most of the lessons were learned – not in the competitions. I felt as much pride finishing that marathon as I did winning any sport or dance event previously.
There’s nothing wrong with competing against those who want to compete with you, there’s nothing wrong with comparing your skills/abilities/performance to others (though there is definitely something wrong with putting others down in the process.) But it’s not necessary – there’s nothing wrong with being on a personal journey, with not comparing yourself with others. There’s also nothing wrong with not challenging yourself athletically and choosing to do what’s easy and fun, or not being involved in fitness/sports/movement at all. Nobody is obligated to be involved in fitness, but everybody should be welcome, and nobody should be mocked for their efforts, or have their efforts used to mock someone else.
So if, like me, you’re a back of the packer, a last placer, if you’re being mocked by people who aren’t worthy to tie your shoelaces, I say rock on you magnificent slow poke, there’s no shame in our slow game.
And if you haven’t seen this video from Nike, you may find it a lovely addition to your stash of inspirational stuff!
Like this blog? Here’s more cool stuff!
IRONMAN Sale: I’m having an ongoing sale on my books, DVDs and downloads to help pay for my IM – you get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! To check it out, you can go to https://ironfatblog.wordpress.com/support-my-ironman/ No money? No problem! If you feel like it, you can leave a comment or send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) saying something encouraging, that’s incredibly helpful as well!
If you have questions about my IRONMAN journey the FAQ might help!
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