On Thanksgiving Day our family participated in a Turkey Trot. It was tons of fun, and the whole family was able to compete– J and I jogged together; Guy rode in his stroller, and Bugaboo walked with my in-laws. It was a beautiful day; the race course took us down some of the most amazing and historic streets of Charleston, SC, and at the finish there was free beer and a bounce house for the kids; it was the perfect family activity.
Unfortunately in the days leading up to the race I ate my weight in junk and drank my weight in wine. I wasn’t on my game Thanksgiving morning, and I failed to make the time I hoped. When J and I crossed the finish line I felt nothing but frustration; which I voiced; at length. I complained bitterly, to John, to my in-laws, to anyone who patted my back and said, “good job”. To all of them I responded with, “I should have done better.”
When we returned home and friends inquired about the race, I put them off, “Oh, it was just a 5k,” I dismissed. “No big deal. And I didn’t even do very well,” I confided.
Somehow because I didn’t meet some arbitrary goal I set, the entire experience is tainted with the stink of failure. I feel silly talking about; I dismiss it, diminish it, discuss it with self-deprecating humor, all because it took me 3 minutes longer than I thought it should. I’ve taken the accomplishment of our race and put it squarely in the it doesn’t count box, because how can it matter when I didn’t succeed.
When I listen to how Bugaboo talks about the race, the difference is striking. She tells EVERYONE about the Turkey Trot. She tells them how she walked the whole thing on her own and even jogged a bit with her aunt. She beams proudly when she tells about meeting her dad and I near the end so we could all cross the finish line together. To hear her tell it you’d think she won first place. With chest puffed out and chin up she says, “I did the best I could.”
She’s proud of that. That’s enough for her.
And it should be enough for me too. Sure I didn’t meet my goal, but in that moment, on that day, with all the circumstances being what they were, I did the best I could. And what would happen if I talked about it like that? What would happen to my attitude, my confidence, and my self-esteem if I treated this, and all my accomplishments, like successes, even when they weren’t quite.
Children have this innate belief and pride in themselves. When Bugaboo was 3 she’d beg me to watch her jump on one foot. She start with both feet on the ground, leap into the air, pull one foot up, and then land, both feet on the ground again. She was approximating, but she was convinced she was jumping on one foot, and her confidence in it was palpable. But because she believed that she could, because she believed that she was, she kept doing it. And of course, all that practice led to the day she actually did it.
What if I did that? What if we as adults did that? What if instead of dismissing it as “JUST” a 5k, I told how much fun I had running with my husband (something we’d never done before!). What if instead of confessing to everyone how poorly I ran, I told them how doing it inspired J and I to set a goal to run a race together every month in 2015. What if I “JUST” didn’t talk about myself like I failed? Instead, what about if I talked about what I learned, how I grew, how I’ll try again?
Maybe my confidence would be stronger, and as a result my accomplishments and successes would be greater and more frequent.