I'm not sure precisely when I decided I wasn't allowed to be too good at things. I'm not entirely certain when I decided that being competitive was synonymous with being "mean", but I've come to realize, I did.
Last week I sat across from my therapist and tried through teary eyes to explain precisely why I was starting to hate my favorite pastime, swimming in the ocean. I'd just completed my fifth Tower 26 workout with all the triathletes and annoyingly talented swimmers. The coach reiterated to my 'slower than the others' group that we had nowhere to go but up. I was sore, my neck was cut up yet again from my stupid wetsuit, and at 8:00 in the morning, I already felt defeated.
Why again was I training for this stupid triathlon? Last year I didn't train to compete and instead just showed up, played in the ocean, rode my bike and went for a fast walk and it was really fun. Now I've got some coach who doesn't think I'm any good, a body that no longer feels strong in the ocean, and a heart that's a little broken. I'm tired. I'll never win against all those crazy triathletes. I'm good enough to try, but not good enough to actually win.
That's when she asked me if I knew why I was doing this, or more importantly WHO I was doing it for.... Was it the coach? Was it the other athletes? I thought for a moment and said,
Phrases like "play to win" have been replaced in my vocabulary with "win where you can" and it has left me just short of reaching out and grabbing that brass ring. Pursuing some crazy goal that I might not achieve never felt permitted. "Summers, you need to be realistic." Wanting that ring means admitting I believe I deserve to be extraordinary.
Now, I've never had anyone at the finish line of any of my marathons or triathlons. I've never asked friends to come watch me compete, fight to win, or just finish some crazy audacious goal. I assume my parents find my exercise endeavors silly because they don't deliver the result of thinness which I believe is their only hope for me. I've never asked them to come watch me compete merely to support me.
So I am competitive. I want to win. Now, I want to win some seriously big things, the job - the book deal - the financial success - and my mountain bike division of the Nautica Triathlon. Admitting I'm competitive, training to win, fighting for the job, the deal, the place on the podium is terrifying. There is a chance I won't succeed.