WHETHER I am running or studying or writing, I always try to give my best. I work as hard as I possibly can so that I can hopefully achieve my goals, or if I don’t achieve them I can at least say I’ve tried my best.
I am definitely a Trier.
I am trying to get back into shape after a few months off. I am trying to break the 40-minute 10k barrier. I am trying to finish writing my running book. I am trying to break the 90-minute half marathon barrier. I am trying to finish my MA in writing. I am trying my best at everything I do. At work, my colleagues laugh at me because whenever I’m working on a project, I always say, ‘It’s got to be right’. And it has. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.
But sometimes, striving for perfection and trying to be the best you can be is hard work. There are always so many barriers to overcome, and sometimes it feels like I’m the biggest barrier. I get so frustrated that I’m not achieving things fast enough, and I tell myself I should be better and I should be doing more and working harder. Sometimes, I’m really hard on myself. Nothing is good enough. Rather than celebrating my successes and being nice to myself, my internal critic takes over.
I recognise that I do this, so try to focus on the positives. I try to break goals down and celebrate milestones. I’ve got lots of different strategies, but sometimes there is just no stopping the feelings of self-doubt.
Last week I found training really difficult. My motivation is back, but my fitness is still on honeymoon. Every session was hard work. My internal critic returned. How can you run sub-40 when you can’t even run a seven-minute mile? How can you write a book when you haven’t done any writing today? You’re not good enough. You should be doing this, that and the other. Why do you bother?
On Thursday, I was at a bit of a low-ebb. Just one of those days. And then I got an email.
‘You’re not perfect,’ it said.
That’s right. ‘You’re not perfect.’
Well, thanks for that! This particular email was from Strava, you probably received it too? Unless, of course, they’d singled me out as being particularly not perfect. Haha!
At first when I read the subject line, ‘you’re not perfect,’ I wanted to thrown the phone out the window (I was at a low-ebb, remember). I really did not want reminding that although I spend my life striving to be better, I am not in any way, shape or form, PERFECT. No, not at all.
I didn’t read the email. Not at first, but I did read it this morning, and the message had changed. ‘Thanks for being yourself,’ was the subject line. Had I dreamt the not perfect bit? I didn’t think so. The email was part of a campaign against the pressure to only share a ‘perfect you’ on social networks. They are asking athletes to post anti-filter photos that show the reality of training and of life.
This made me smile because never in all my years of blogging have I ever shared a filtered photo. Mainly because I have no idea what a filter is, let alone how to use one.
‘It makes you look good,’ Chris said.
‘You mean, all the time I’ve been writing my blog I could have been making myself look incredible?’
‘That’s why the modelling offers haven’t arrived,’ I said. ‘I’ve missed a trick there.’
But why would I want to use a filter? Why would I want to make myself look perfect when the reality is that I’m not, no-one is? On this blog, I have always been myself. I always present the reality, sharing the highs and the lows, the struggles and the success. I strive to be the best that I can be, but recognise that I am not perfect. I am honest. Why would I want to use digital trickery or embellished words to make myself seem perfect? What good would that do for me or the lovely people who take time to read my blog?
Strava is trying to encourage the running community to be themselves. I definitely support this. I just think they got their initial messaging wrong. When I’m being hard on myself for not getting to where I want to be, I will remember that I’m not perfect. Instead of the negatives, I will look at how far I have come. I will celebrate just being me.
A selection of my many unfiltered photos.