The Art Of Comparison

Why am I even doing this sport?

This question appears ever so often in my head and usually after a disappointing performance on my end. This question is the sole champion of musical chairs in my mind, just waiting patiently for a bad performance to abrupt the positive music, sit down, and make itself comfortable. What is even crazier is that I know how persistent this question is yet I’m surprised every time it comes around.

But why?

I have come to realize that this question usually starts to peak it’s head when comparison joins the party. Comparing myself to other people, to my former self, and to my future self is an art. An art I have somehow been able to become great at over the years.

So again why am I even doing this sport?

If comparison is a problem, track is the sport to be apart of. Yes comparison doesn’t come in the form of barbershop debates and ESPN shows but there is a reasons for that. Track is clear cut in its comparison. For example if Athlete A has ran 9.87 in the 100 meters and Athlete B has ran 10.25 there is not much to debate that Athlete A is faster than Athlete B. In other sports there are many more variables that can factor in a performance. Steph Curry can drop 60 points in a game but it can be debatable because of the competition he is playing. Also in other sports there are performances that can be great but no numerical value associated with it. Examples of this would be playing great defense in a basketball game, making correct passes in soccer, and blocking the right defender in football. The preceding can all be performed by an individual and the crowd, fans, and sometimes other players won’t even notice. This is where track and other individual sports are different. The sport is simply based on numerical value, in track that being time in a race or distance thrown, jumped, or vaulted. It is said numbers never lie. So it’s hard to have faith and be positive about yourself at the moment because the distance/time is constantly whispering, “Calm down you know your place come back to reality.”

The very essence of this non debatable comparison has been a detriment to my success in the past. I constantly compared myself to my competitors and still struggle with this at times. I am already battling my personality which is pessimistic about my own abilities but optimistic about others. Being this way leads me to discount myself, my achievements, and potential. I often cripple my inner faith by identifying myself with a placing, distance, or ranking. So if the outcome is is great I feel awesome about myself, I am on top of the world. But when I do not do well or increase my personal best, I am left with a feeling that I am a number that represents under achievement. The most insane part of track and field is…..95% PERCENT OF THE TIME I AM NOT GOING TO HIT A PERSONAL BEST (rough estimate don’t take that percentage to the bank). So obviously I have to re-evaluate my mindset or I would despise myself and the sport which I am apart of (which some athletes come to do).

Everyday I coming to recognize that you can only compare something when it is a finished product. It’s hard to compare a sprinter in the middle of the race or a team before the game is over. What I am realizing is that I am not a finished product as an athlete, person, husband, or any endeavor I am apart of. To come to this knowledge I continually have to separate my individual performance from my identity. Understanding that every time I compete it’s a part of the whole picture rather than each performance as different artwork.

Comparison does not stop the bigger picture from being painted but it alters art by making us bask in the blemishes. We do this constantly in our lives. I have seen mothers criticize themselves because they compared their 2 year old kid’s birthday party to another mom. I’ve seen teenagers think they are not cool because of comparison of Instagram likes to a classmate. I have seen great athletes quit sports in the middle of practice because they compared themselves to teammates who had been doing the sport longer than them. All of these instances individuals over emphasized the circumstance and translated it to a character trait. And until these individuals usually get their own version of a positive result they will stay at pit stop of comparison and negativity.

So why am I doing this sport? (And yes it usually takes me three times asking myself before I come with the right answer)

Because in the end I love the journey, the low’s as much as the highs. The journey that wouldn’t be worthwhile if it didn’t have disappointments and bumps along the way. Yes the impossible might be the destination but the majority of us might not get there. It is what we learn and the memories we make attempting to arrive that are worth more than the destination.