Bear with me, folks; I need to have a bragging moment. I have earned the following title:
“World’s Okayest Runner”
Don’t be jealous. I ran a lot of miles and set and achieved a lot of running goals to get to the level of Okayest. With a lot of blood, sweat and tears, you may also reach this status one day.
All joking aside, let me give you a little background about me: I’ve always been shy, insecure, and afraid to try anything new for fear of failing or making a fool of myself. I’ve always been average, a bit invisible and under everyone’s radar. While friends in high school were hanging out and partying, I was most likely at home reading a book. I was smart, but wasn’t at the top of my class. I did okay in college, and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Psychology, but just didn’t have the drive to start and build a successful career. I’ve always worked hard, but stuck with what was safe and what I knew. Secretarial/administrative assistant type work was always my fallback and somehow I ended up on that track and couldn’t get off. My whole life I’ve compared myself to others and never felt good enough, and so I always stayed in my comfort zone so that I wouldn’t fail at anything.
When I first started running, I ran on the treadmill because I was too embarrassed to go outside and let people see me slowly plodding along, gasping for air, and stopping to walk all of the time because I couldn’t run for minutes at a time. I’d see other people running outside and knew that I wasn’t even close to the level they were at and so I continued to run on the treadmill in private, where no one else could see me.
When I could run a couple of miles without stopping, I started taking my runs outside. I grew more confident. I started looking around and noticed that not everyone looked like an Olympic runner. Some people were like me; beginners who had a 5k they were working towards. The more I ran, the more I met people who also ran and let me tell you something about the running community: they are the most supportive, encouraging, cool, and awesome people in the world and when you tell them that you run at a turtle 12 or 13-minute pace, they won’t even blink an eye. They will tell you “Good for you!!” and make you feel like you’re the fastest person on earth.
Running has given me confidence. It makes me feel strong and free and confident. And it has give me something that I never thought I would have: courage. Suddenly I started doing things that in the past I would have been too afraid to do: I signed up for races. I started calling myself a runner. I proudly post my mileage and pace times on social media, despite how slow I am. I’m changing directions in my career and am not afraid to take on new responsibilities. I know that I will have moments of stumbling and failure, but I’m not letting fear hold me back.
I stopped comparing myself to others because you know what? There will always be someone who is faster, stronger, smarter, prettier, richer, and more successful. Instead I look at my accomplishments in life so far and how far I’ve come and I look at the future and sky is the limit for me! I BELIEVE THAT I’M GOOD ENOUGH!!
And guess what? You’re good enough, too! I’m a rock star, you’re a rock star, we’re all ROCK STARS. Fast, slow, fat, thin, tall, short, average, poor, rich – what we all do is EPIC and as long as we don’t give up, as long as we don’t let fear hold us back from achieving our goals, as long as we keep trying and do our best, we can all say that we are the “World’s Okayest (whatever you want to be)”.
And that’s okay.