I have a confession to make.
It's about my behavior during the Olympics.
No, I didn't use PEDs or urinate on anything. And I didn't get all angry and bitter when a certain athlete didn't perform as I hoped or when I thought judging was a little too subjective. In fact, I'm a pretty great Olympic viewer. I watch a LOT of events, not just the popular ones. I root root root for the home team AND I love a good underdog story. I cry at the National Anthem - anyone's National Anthem. I cheer like a madwoman at the TV and I become an instant expert on sports I've never heard of. "Get your head down!" "PULL PULL!" "Steady this time, steady steaaaaaady... see his form? Not good. YOU'LL GET 'EM NEXT TIME, YOU!"
My confession comes about one specific evening when our whole household - dogs included - were watching the qualifying heats of some track event. In every heat there would be one or two athletes who didn't come close to qualifying. At the gun, they drifted so far behind they didn't even get television coverage. Athletes who would cross the finish long after the qualifiers finished and sometimes even well after we went to commercial. Keep in mind, these were the qualifying heats. Which often lead to semi-finals, then finals. These athletes weren't even getting past the first round. They came to Brazil to not even get past the first round.
So (and here's my confession) as I was watching, I called over my shoulder to Steve and I said, "Why do those people back there in the back even bother? I mean, what's the point? It's so much energy and it costs so much to travel there and be there and they don't even have a chance. They KNOW they don't have a chance. There is NO CHANCE of them even coming close to winning. Why do they show up at all?"
It's like I'd lost my mind or something. When I finally looked over at Steve, he was looking at me like I was speaking Portuguese. Or maybe was I joking? Or maybe I really did lose my mind. His face was all squinted up and his mouth was open with his lip sorta half curled in a perfectly perfect non-verbal "are you really saying that?" expression.
It jolted me.
Me, who knows better.
Me, who is the QUEEN of the back of the pack.
Me, who JUST WROTE an email about choosing hard things.
Me. I said that.
As if there is no glory in getting there. Forget the fact that any one of those bozos could run circles around me - literally. Forget the fact they really are the best in the world. Forget that IT'S THE OLYMPICS and they EARNED their right to be there. Why the heck wouldn't they go?
I know better. I really do.
I started running when I turned 40 and I was immediately bad at it. Like, right away. And I've maintained my success at being bad at it. I've been running now for 7 years. I still suck eggs. But I keep doing it. Not because I'm good at it and not because I'm getting better but because what would it say about me if I didn't?
It's good to be bad at something.
It's good to embrace the "so what?" every now and then.
It's good to come in last.
Don't let the world out there fool you. Don't let your family history or your internal dialogue or twisted interpretation of what you think you are supposed to be trick you into caring too much about how you perform. Gold, silver, bronze, participation ribbon, or nothing at all, you are still you.
And you're pretty awesome.