As anyone who’s happened across my blog in the past, oh, four months or so should know quite well, I’ve been taking hip hop and/or breakdancing classes since the end of October. Three or four weeks ago, we were stretching in one of my breakdance classes. In the course of this, it became apparent that one of my classmates has a lot of hip flexibility. My teacher then wanted to know how many of us could do a lotus.
^^ Like such.
Two of my classmates were able to contort themselves into that position with little to no trouble, while I tried to drag my legs over each other to no avail. I’m relatively flexible (sit and reach was my JAM during Presidential Fitness Testing in middle school P.E.), but the lotus just was not going to happen for me. When I got home after class, I was stretching while telling my roommate about this whole experience, during which I said, “Man, I’m a runner. Do you have any idea how tight my hips are all the time? I can’t be flexible and strong and a decent runner and a good breakdancer and a good hip hop dancer. I can’t be everything!”
It was one of those accidental epiphany moments for me that has had a major effect on how I’ve seen a lot of things lately.
Two weeks ago, I was putting in some laps at the pool in my training for my indoor tri. Lap swimming gives me a lot of time to think, and during this swim I thought to myself, “You know, I really need to work on my swimming. I need to get a lot better at this.” As soon as that thought finished, another one appeared: “Why? Why do I need to be a good swimmer?”
Other than perhaps in case of a nautical emergency, I couldn’t come up with an answer.
As someone who’s been driven by perfectionism and derived most, if not all, of her feelings of self-worth from tangible success for the past 22 years, this has led to a significant shift in my thinking. What if, instead of driving myself crazy over my shortcomings, I could embrace my mediocrity? What if I accepted that I can’t be the best at everything–I can’t even be good at everything–and that’s okay?
Folks, it’s one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m going to take a wild guess here and assume that most of the people reading this blog spend a lot of their Internet time reading the same sort of material I read: healthy living blogs, fitness magazines, running articles, etc. I’ve recently become more conscious of just how much many of these outlets seem to preach the message of doing everything: “It’s great that you’re running, but you need to cross train! You need to strength train! You need to do yoga! You need to spin! You need to swim! You need to have full rest days! You need to have active rest days! If you don’t do all of these things, you’ll get injured/hit a plateau/lose your inherent awesomeness.”
Now, don’t get me wrong: I absolutely think it’s important and healthy to cross train. I think it’s fantastic to step outside of your fitness comfort zone and dabble in other activities to see if there are other things you enjoy in addition to your primary source of exercise (see: hip hop). But I also have come to realize in the past couple of weeks that it’s equally important to find balance in all of this. Cross training is just that: it’s cross training. It exists to keep you from overusing the same muscles, to make it less likely that you’ll be injured, to keep you interested in what you’re doing. It’s not there as something you have to master or be the best at.
I don’t have to be the best swimmer. I don’t have to be the best or most flexible dancer. Honestly, I don’t even have to the best runner. Should I strive to do my best at these things? Certainly. My best may not be the best, but that’s perfectly okay.
I don’t have any good questions to ask about this, so feel free to say whatever you want!
CHICAGO MARATHON REGISTRATION OPENS TODAY. !!
My registration situation is…complicated. All I know for sure is that I’m going to be an extremely unhappy camper if I don’t get into the race this year.