My week was drawing to a close, grabbing a pint with my new colleagues. We all sat around in the old man Irish pub inundated with my bank colleagues. This was where we drank together. Rinsing off the week with happy faces. Glad to be leaving to office behind, but even happier to be celebrating that fact with our team mates.
Talking of random stuff, we launched into the topic of running. Especially as I was trying to convince people to do a night run with me for charity. The topic of marathon’s came up. He wants to run a marathon, because of the ‘bragging rights’ to be allowed to be a ‘smug’ marathon runner. This made me laugh, as I’ve run a marathon. And in no way do I feel smug. If anything, I feel like an ‘loser’ marathon runner, as I ran it in five and a half hours.
We live in a world where we put people into category’s of ‘Winners’ and ‘Losers’. Where we rank everyone, including ourselves. Women I know are especially bad at say ‘well I’m not good enough’. And all of this plays out into how we motivate ourselves. Whether we battle through ‘to prove something’. This battle is how I got myself through my divorce. I wasn’t going to let my ‘ex- husband’ win at this ‘post- divorce’ life. I would be the more successful one, the kinder one, the happier one.
This also plays out into how we rank ourselves. With the level of suffering we have. I remember I would do this for hours with some of my class mates. I had the worse life, my parents were mad at me, I’d had an argument with my brother. Beat that! Pity me, pity me! Look how much further I’ve succeeded by suffering through that to get here!
As life progressed on, I’d try to play this game out again. And when my ex- husband and I broke up I became a die- hard victim. People would look at me, sympathy in their eyes, and relief that they weren’t me. Occasionally people would try to drill below the surface of my ‘Look at me, I’m the one winning post- divorce’. Understanding that there wasn’t going to be any winners or losers here. And over time I became more and more irritated with that look. The questions behind it. The demand on me to say ‘I was a victim’ and ‘I needed to cry about it’.
Listening to my colleague, I could see this playing out for him. He wants to be a ‘smug’ marathon runner. I tested him, as we both agreed running for a long distance is quite frankly… boring to us both. So why do this? He wants to win at this thing called ‘life’. He wants to be a Barney Stinson. Because obviously there are only winners and losers right?
But, let me tell you a little secret…. this is bulls*$t. We’ve been taught a story about ‘Winners’ and ‘Losers’. Told what it means to be successful. And this all revolves around an idea that if we rack up accomplishments, awards, money, a spouse, travel to exotic countries. This is what it means to win. We never ask the question of what it is to just do something because you enjoy it. Just for the simple pleasure of it giving you a warm feeling of joy.
I still run regularly, just because I enjoy it. I enjoy the flow of my body in the steps it takes. The muscles stretching in endless repetitive strides, as my feet pound into the relentless concrete. So as I sit and contemplate ‘Would I ever do a marathon again’… the word ‘Nah!’ comes strongly into my mind. And this isn’t because I’m a ‘smug’ marathon runner already. Its just purely because I can’t be bothered. I don’t need a medal to show I’m winning at life. I just don’t want to play that game anymore.