Don't Compare Your Beginning to Someone Else's Middle
*Bear with me through this stream-of-consciousness blog.
About 11 weeks ago, I was finally given the "go-ahead" to start running again - after 12 weeks of being completely off my feet (yep, not even walking). As to be expected, I was thrilled - I couldn't wait to finally dust off and lace up my Nikes again, even if it was just for a slow half mile. Progress is progress, right?!
Within a few weeks, however, this excited attitude evolved into frustration...and eventually, into envy, disappointment and anger. From the onset, I understood that my recovery would be a long process - my doctor expected that it would take me around 9-12 months to healthily gain the same level of endurance back if I was patient. Four months was a long time to take off - I had lost a good amount of lung capacity and my right leg was pretty atrophied. To top it off, I was (and still am) at high risk for shattering the entire bone and receiving an entire hip replacement (yes, even at age 22...). So, I knew I couldn't increase my mileage and speed too quickly. So, once my excitement plateaued, I grew frustrated by the fact that I couldn't go faster or further - my physical condition was still affecting running and even after getting off crutches, I was not at all where I wanted to be.
What made this frustration and impatience so much was worse (and yes, I feel awful for saying this and yes, I am happy for them - really) was seeing my friends only get better and faster - quickly speeding through long distance runs while I struggled to run just two miles.
I've notoriously always struggled with comparison issues.
Why couldn't I run as far or as fast as my friends? Why couldn't I be further along in my career compared to people I graduated with? Why was I struggling with maintaining quiet time and Bible study whereas my friends could spend hours effortlessly focusing? Why was I not making friends as easily as other people who just graduated?
These questions plagued my thoughts throughout the last two years. I constantly compared my progress and place in life to everyone around me - and if I wasn't where they were, I considered myself not good enough.
While on a solo hiking trip a few weekends ago, I had a breakthrough moment as I hauled my way up to the summit (hours and hours to think...). I realized comparison wasn't getting me anywhere - and I had no idea what circumstances anyone else was in or the amount of work/time it had taken them to get there. Crying about my friends being faster and stronger was not going to make me faster or stronger - and I had to realize they had been working hard the entire time I was set back. And who knew how hard they were working or trying before that?! Same goes for everyone in their careers, love life, friends, religion. Everyone was at different points in their personal relationship with each of these things.
Returning to running again after a traumatic injury was honestly like starting to run again. Moving to a new city not knowing a single person was a new beginning - a fresh start. Starting a job in an industry I was unfamiliar with was going to come with a learning curve and would be a huge journey. I was (and am) at the beginning of each of these journeys - while other people around me may be in the midst of theirs. They didn't start out at the place they are now - no matter how much I think that. Everyone had to train, work hard, grin and bear it through making friends and starting a new job.
So, as I head out for my daily run - I am working on no longer comparing my pace and distance to those around me. I'm working on feeling excited and focusing on my own progress - I will get faster and stronger as time goes on. I'm remembering why I was so excited to get off crutches and start something "new" - I'm just happy to be on this journey at all.
Respect your journey. Don't rush it. Your middle will come one day too.