As I’ve run, at various times, I’ve seen someone working up a sweat and my first reaction is, “Geez! Their form (or some other aspect) is awful!” before I catch myself and think, “But at least their trying…” My first response to my thoughts is usually one of disgust with myself for such a negative thought being the first into my head. I’ve always tried to be as positive and supportive as I possibly can, so to see that in me is always a big downer. But, looking back on it, so often I think those negative thoughts of others during times when my own self-esteem is also not in the best place. Why is it that, when I think negatively about my form, pacing, speed, or just myself in general, that I begin to see the faults in other people? I suppose a large part of it comes down to the fact that, sometimes, we all think that the best or only way for us to advance or get ahead is to beat other people, correct other people, or generally show other people that I’m better.
I know that I’m not alone in this phenomenon. How do I know? Because I pay attention. Social media, for instance, is a prime place to see people trying to boost their own egos by putting others down. For instance, the grammar and spelling police or the stat corrector. A majority of it, I believe, stems from a low self-esteem that seems to only find a bit of relief when other people are even lower. Misery loves company, as the cliche goes.
And sometimes the worst part is that we, I include myself in this, try to disguise the put-downs as a “friendly hint”, “gentle correction”, or a smiley emoticon to imply that we are joking. When, much of the time, the biggest problem isn’t that they use the wrong running form or gear, the wrong form of they’re/there/their or you’re/your, or don’t have their stats 100%. Often, it comes down to us being self-conscious and trying find any little fault in someone else to show ourselves that we’re not so bad after all.
But what if my self-worth wasn’t wrapped up in being a better runner, musician, father, husband, or friend than someone else? What if, instead, we simply agreed that we are all worth a whole lot and my improvement doesn’t depend on other’s degradation (even in the form of a “friendly reminder”)? What if our duty wasn’t to “serve and correct”, as the badge above indicates, but instead to accompany and encourage?
I’m fairly sure that I can’t answer that yet. But I can say this, being in sound mind and spirit, that if you’re out there, running your heart out, don’t let a “friendly reminder” on form or something stop you. Keep running. Because you’re getting better and I’m happy to see that. Let’s get better together and let’s bring a few people along with us while we’re at it.