I do my best when other people are watching.
I came to this realization the other day. I think it’s something I’ve always known, always had in the back of my brain, but who wants to come face to face with something shameful about themselves? Not me.
A few days ago my friend Monica (long-time reader and friend, hiiiiii) and I set out on a trail run in my local forest preserve. Now, I was pretty nervous because since my life turned upside-down this summer I have only been running a few times a week, usually about 3 miles filled with plenty of “quick breaks.” Monica, on the other hand, is a natural-born runner (sprinter, but runner nonetheless) so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up.
First of all, it was one of the most fun runs I’ve ever had. I’ve never run without music, and I certainly never thought I could run and talk at the same time. Somehow we did it, as we ran through the beautiful forest preserve and admired all that nature had to offer (including some sickkkk-nasty bugs that I didn’t even know existed).
Ok there was a point to this story…
So the whole time I was worried I wouldn’t be able to a) keep up or b) run as far as she wanted. Well, before I knew it we had run about 4.5 miles (at 2:00 in the hot afternoon sun, mind you) and I felt great!
So, why am I telling you this?
Because I know that if I had been running by myself I wouldn’t have lasted two miles. I would have come up with a million excuses to start walking. “It’s sooooo hot out I need to grab some water” “That tree is beautiful I need to stop and take a picture of it” “Ok three miles? That’s what I am capable of so it’s time to stop”. I know exactly what thoughts would have run through my head if I were by myself.
I have lost the ability to push myself, for me. I am a showoff. I wanted to run far because I was with someone else. When another runner or biker approached I could feel myself making sure I was standing up straight and not breathing heavily (going so far as to hold my breath until they passed). I behave this way all the time when I’m running. I can think of a million times that I start to walk because I am tired but I see a car coming so I run again because heaven forbid someone else see me “failing.”
The best part is, I’m sure this translates to the rest of my life. I perform best when I am showing off for others. When I hear someone coming into the room, whether it’s at home or work, I tense up and make sure I am doing something or that I look okay (i.e. sit up, redo my ponytail, etc.) I also have a weird tendancy to think that people are always watching me in social situations. In the grocery store I will catch myself scowling in a reflection (I have a bitchy resting face 🙂 ) or slouching and I will automatically make myself look better. I’m not sure what has possessed my mind to thinking that the world revolves around me, or that people in public give two flying F’s about what I’m doing when I’m hovering over the veggies at my supermarket, but I am always “on.”
In the past few years I’ve made decisions for my life based on what other people want. I adopt the personality of the people I’m with, or at least try my very best to complement theirs. It’s exhausting. For those of you who have read Gone Girl, I feel like the girl that Amy talked about a lot, the girl who is always trying to look “cool.” Whether it be through running, writing, speaking, partying, joking, cooking, baking, existing…I want everyone to like me and to leave the room impressed with me. I like to make impressions. I think this is the main reason why I have this nagging feeling that I don’t know who I really am.
My running realization is a metaphor for one of my weaknesses in life. I’m hoping that accepting this weakness, admitting it, writing it will help me overcome it. I really want to adopt a confident personality that doesn’t change when I’m not standing out or making an impression. I can push myself to run 4.5 miles when no one else is watching. I can have a bitchy resting face in the grocery store and not care because, let’s be honest, no one is looking, no one cares. I can go to yoga and not force myself into poses that I’m not ready for, just because I don’t want to fail. I can have a strong, confident personality and not adjust it just because the people I’m with might not think it’s the “coolest.”
I am a work-in-progress. But at the end of the day, I am enough. I might be on a journey, but the person I am now is enough.
- Do you care what other people think about you?
- Do you do your best when other people are watching?
- What did you do to get over this and just do things for you?