“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain
Social media, Facebook, running blogs, race reports, live runner tracking….the internet is ripe with endless material which one could obsessively pore over and use as a tool for comparison. A gauge. A measuring stick. Runners by nature tend to be competitive creatures. I have found ultrarunners to be less outwardly competitive and more demanding of, and hard on, themselves. It’s an interesting transformation when you find your own personal goals bumping up against the exciting, awesome, inspiring goals of those around you.
ok, I admit to having a photo of Ellie on my fridge. a girl can dream. 🙂
Inspiration, I like. Running inspiration ignites the flame within me that just needed a little fanning & a little ooomph…running inspiration connects me to a community of people following their own dreams and setting some damn fine examples of lives fully lived. Comparison, on the other hand, seems to stamp out my fire. Deflates and diminishes my own aspirations. How to separate the two when we are constantly bombarded (by our own choosing of course — no one is forcing me to use the internet) with this or that blog, status update, photo, race result, etc? When does inspiration dissolve into cheap comparison? When does soulful passionate desire to fulfill an inner dream for oneself turn into “Look what she’s doing/ I should do that too/ Why can’t I do that/ Ohmygodiamsojealous/ I suck, I should just forget even trying.” It seems to be a fine line.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) brings up a Jr. High-type pang in my tummy….a 7th grade “I didn’t get invited to the roller skating party”-type left-out feeling. It’s actually pretty ludicrous when I sit and think about it logically. My running is no less meaningful because I missed that race, that amazing adventure, that superfun trail run. My goals are no less important if they take 3 years to accomplish due to the plain fact that I am a single mama, work full-time and have a very busy teenage boy….Why even compare? I guess it’s human nature to do so (and I do believe there is a particularly sticky brand of comparison that is woman-nature.)
As I look ahead, I wonder what the next few years will bring in terms of my running goals. More 100s? More racing? Or more self-styled adventures that don’t involve pinning on a bib and won’t be blabbered about on my FB page or posted on Ultrasignup…? I don’t know. I personally LOVE to read race reports & I often get goosebumps reading of other runners’ amazing achievements as well as their heart-wrenchingly difficult lessons learned out on the trail.
The wonder of the internet is that we have access to all this sharing. I owe much of my introduction to and love of trail running to the folks I have met online and through running events that I have found through social media. I think where I need to be careful is that place where I mistakenly slip into measuring my own experiences against the seemingly supershiny spectacular ones I see online. When my own plan for a fun little weekend jaunt on the trails is somehow diminished by someone else’s post detailing a crazy epic adventure that I “missed out” on.
It’s all perspective. It’s all about constructing my own gauge & my own definition of what brings ME joy. A goal for the coming year: Maintain my abundant well of Erin-Joy while simultaneously allowing it to be sprinkled, splashed and nourished with healthy, happy drops of welcome inspiration.