Sometimes as I run down one of the local running paths and a quick bouncy runner bounds past me, or as I run on the treadmill and the guy on one side plots along as a slower pace and the girl on the other side cranks her speed up to a sprint I get discombobulated. Without thinking about it my body starts trying to keep up or over take the runners around me. I start to make my run more about the people around me than it should be. I’ve had conversations with other runners who question the half-marathon training program I’ve picked and make it sound like it doesn’t compare to the miles they are running.
Sometimes as I write here at Evolving Mommy or for the other sites I am lucky to write for I hear about the success of other people and I feel the need to compare myself. “Should I be writing differently?” “Why haven’t as many people shared my lasagna recipe, when it’s just as good?” “I’ll never have as many followers as they do.” Or even, “I have more followers than they do, why did they get that opportunity?”
Every mother has an opinion on how to do things. A lot of mothers are fine with doing things their way and not making judgement even if you do things differently. Some mothers will happily pass judgement if you didn’t meet their criteria for successful breastfeeding, or if you chose a different birth experience for having your baby. These same mothers will pretend they are making conversation and simply asking questions about how your baby is sleeping or if your kindergartner is reading chapter books when really they’re only asking for the sake of competition.
The need we all feel at times to keep up with everyone else is powerful. In moments of self-doubt those feelings can go from annoying to overwhelming. We all want to succeed. The trouble is, can we really succeed if we’re measuring ourselves against other people’s ideas of success? In these moments I have to remind myself of one important thing. One enormously important rule. This rule is not just for running, it applies to life.
Run your own race, Catherine. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t measure your successes against what other people are doing. This life is mine. This race is my own.
Sometimes I have to repeat it to myself over and over – Run your own race, run your own race, run your own race – as I navigate a challenge. Sometimes all it takes is a single reminder to put me back on the right path. The path where I set my challenges, run my own race and forget about what they’re doing. Because really, who cares what they’re doing?