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Stay In Your Own Lane

July 2020: Okay, Diane. Write Comparison is the Thief of Joy 100 times on your mind, so that you hold it there…

September 2020: Today I was running the ski hill, and two women were slowly making their way up. They were a little older than me, I think, and were aware that I was coming up behind them. I stopped my music; I just had a feeling they were going to connect. Sure enough, as I passed, they said hello and that they knew I was coming up fast behind them. I passed them a few more times during my workout, always stopping my music to make sure I didn’t miss the connection as I went by, and connect they did: There she goes! Coming up Fast! You’re really moving! To which I would say: Thank you! You’re doing great, too!

I was reminded of a day earlier in July when I was in the beginning of an epic workout on the same hill. It was packed with people and we were all there on our individual missions, but I could not stop comparing myself to them—comparing myself to people that I did not know, working on goals that I was not privy to, that had nothing to do with me anyway. I was beginning to feel bad about myself because of a story that I told myself, about myself, in comparison to the other people, those other people that I did not know, on the hill. At the top of the hill I stopped to catch my breath and thought, Wait…what?! This makes no sense. I need to stay in my own lane, take my own inventory, stay focused on my self—on this hill, at work, on Instagram, at the gym…Perhaps the relentlessness of the work that day finally wore me down so that I could see the truth of it: Comparison steals joy. It doesn’t move you forward. It disconnects you from other people. And it most certainly does not make getting up that hill any easier.

Well, I’m happy to report that I think the lesson is sinking in. As I passed those women today, I felt connected to them. The hill climbing, gaining elevation, has been a big challenge for me, and I’ve been working on it. I am getting better and better at climbing that hill compared to me a few months ago. And then I realized that I wasn’t ahead of them, I was with them. All of us on the hill, working on our own shit. Except for the few, rare athletes who are actually at the top of a sport, there will always be people ahead of us. Competition is beautiful to me, comparison is destructive. Knowing the difference between the two is mighty important. And putting the kibosh on comparison lets joy come to the surface.