"There are notes between notes, you know." -- Sarah Vaughan

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Who are you competing with?

I have a friend (we'll call her Jane) who is *painfully* self conscious. As in, most of her waking thoughts are about what other people think about her, what she's said, how she looks, her work etc.

I thought this was unique to her, cause surely other people didn't spend that much time and energy focused on what other people think of them, right? Wrong.

Jane has been encouraged by my weightloss efforts and started her own Couch to 5K program. Now, this is not just good news because she is becoming more active, this is good news because Jane has low self-esteem and has not had a real date in about three years because she doesn't think anyone will want her because she is fat. So, to see her get up and do something about this is a BIG deal.

Another friend asked Jane to run a 5K with her in the fall. Jane mentioned it to me and I said, "I'll do it with you!" because it's a good goal for both of us to work toward this summer. Then Jane says this: "I'm scared because, what if I come in last? I would be so embarrassed."


Really? This is your first time ever running a race, a race in which there are likely to be experienced runners and your fear is that you will finish last?

I said, "Who cares if you finish last as long as you FINISH. That's what I am focusing on. FINISHING the race."

I recounted this conversation to my coworker who is a runner and she said, "I thought the same thing in my first race. I was so worried I would be last and it made me tense."


I don't get it. Why the hell would I care about whether some people I don't know who are standing their fat asses on the sidelines while I run and improve my health laugh or whatever at me cause I finish my first 5K race last?

But, that's when the lightbulb went off. This is the same coworker who needs me to reassure them every five minutes that they are doing a good job. She needs constant stroking and approval. Not me. Accolades are nice, but I prefer money.

See, I operate in MY world. I don't give a shit what anybody else is doing, cause I'm doing ME. I compete with ME. With the race, I was thinking about finishing it and what an accomplishment that would be and how I would ask my friends and family to come and cheer me along and how great it would be to do this with my friend. That's all.

Now, race two or three or 45, OK, yeah, I should be pushing myself harder than to just finish. But race one? Let's just get through the race, cross the finish line, reach the goal.

This also brings to mind a conversation with a friend. She was hesitant to put her daughters in dance class because of the potential for body image issues. I countered with this: I took dance lessons -- tap, ballet and jazz. I was a pudgy kid. Maybe the other kids noticed, maybe they didn't, I don't know cause all I cared about was getting on stage and performing. That's it. I don't remember one other girl's name from those classes and I took them from ages 3 to 15. I wasn't there to make friends, I was there to be a star. (<-- people who know me will laugh at this statement cause they *know* how true it is).

But, maybe that's just me.


  1. Anonymous6/24/2010

    yes, you're the catch!

  2. Anonymous6/24/2010

    I probably have TOO much esteem cause I really think I'm the SHIT. And I am not skinny at all!

    Good luck to your friend.

  3. Anonymous6/25/2010

    Nah, I don't get this either! Even at my highest weight, you couldn't tell me that I wasn't all that! I've always done what made me happy and haven't given a crap as to whether I would win, lose or look foolish doing either. I hope the race helps your friend and I hope your other friend lets her daughters dance.

  4. *Blink* is right. I am a runner (jogger) and I didn't care less what position I came in as long as I FINISHED. The only person I was competing against was the shennanigans going on in my own head (the hill is too much, it's too hot, blah, blah).

    HUMPH. I got a big ego and KNOW I am da SHIT AND a bag of chips.

    And that dance class mess...that is a mother putting her own self-esteme & body issues on her daughter. Way to go on putting that mess in her head that probably isn't even there.

  5. There is nothing wrong with a healthy amount of self confidence. IMO even over confidence is better than low self esteem. That can cripple you as evidenced by your friends mindset to put limits on her life. When you have confidence you at least have a chance to suceed at something since you have convinced yourself first, which is the most important step.

  6. What TIH said.

    People that worry about what others think are doing themselves a disservice and won't figured it out until they figure it out. Do what you want hell. Living life scared of others looks like it SUCKS.CHUNKS.

  7. Okay. I can relate to your friend. I struggle with low self-esteem. Even when I lost 30 pounds and looked great, I still didn't like myself and it manifested in the guys I chose to date - really bad relationships. I think that's one of the reasons I'm not where I want to be in life - professionally or personally: Fear and I just think too much about what others think of me. Maybe it stems from being teased as a child about my big butt (I was a sensitive child).

    I do believe my lack of self-assurance and confidence has prevented me from taking advantage of many opportunities. However, I don't obsess about it like your friend. Instead, I just sort of stay in my little box and try not to bring attention to myself.

    But I must say, I'm getting better. I'm beginning to love my curves and appreciate my talent.


Use your inside voice ... or I'll put you outside. -- SingLikeSassy