All my life, or at least as long as I can remember, I have had the tendency to compare myself to others. I look at the lives of my friends and family, and wonder why I'm not doing the same things, or getting the same results, or what I can do to be more like them. Sometimes, it's not a bad thing. For instance, I see my sister and how happy she is being a mom, and I think, I can have that. But more often then not, it is not a good thing. It's probably one of the more destructive of my bad habits. I see people who started university the same year as me who will graduate with their second degree when I'm finally getting my first. I see people who are my age owning homes while we are renting a tiny place, and will be renting for a while longer. I see people close to my age not just having their first child, but their second or third. I see people who try running and within a few weeks are finishing ten minutes faster than my best 5K. The list goes on and on.
For years, my mom counselled me to stop focusing on what other people were doing, and worry about what I'm doing. All of our circumstances are different. I know what my best is, and I know that I can also improve. I'm not competing with anyone else, I'm competing against myself. Every day, I want to be improving -- but not against what someone else is doing. I want to improve against my own standard.
The last few weeks, I have made a greater effort to get outside and run while the sun has been shining and the temperatures have been moderate. One afternoon, I decided to make a playlist of songs that would keep me running fast so I could finally beat my fastest time. For the first while, I was doing great. I had my fastest kilometer yet, and I was sure that I had mastered it. But then around my third kilometer, my legs would not work. It was a struggle to keep going. After a few rests, and very slow pace on my last two kilometers due to a horrible cramp, I finished the 5K I had set out to do but much slower than I wanted. I came home feeling defeated and worthless. What was wrong with me? I know how to run. I can do it, but why wouldn't my body do what I wanted it to do? As I thought more about it that night, I realized that the fun of running had been overshadowed by my compulsion to compare my results against someone else's. The next morning, I decided that I would go for an easy thirty minute jog and not care about how fast or how far I went. It was great. I ran really slow, but I felt great.
Heavenly Father does not judge us by how we stack up next to someone else. He knows what we are personally capable of, and wants us to focus on improving ourselves day by day by doing better than we did the day before.
It's still a real struggle for me not to compare myself to others, but I am thankful for the insights that I have been able to have this last week as I work towards correcting my behaviours.
I'm still a slow runner, and I am probably the least flexible person in my yoga class. I live in a really small home, and I still wonder if I will actually graduate. But, I'm happy. Running and yoga make me feel good even when I can't run a ten minute mile yet and I can't reach my toes today. But, I am comforted by the knowledge that every day, in every way I'm getting better and better.