This phrase has taunted me for lengthly portions of my life. Am I good enough? And for whom? Or for what? And what does it have to do with my running?
For whatever reason, I grew up never believing I was good enough. Maybe it was growing up in a very wealthy city and never being one of the wealthiest. Maybe it was attending private catholic schools. Maybe it was the influence of society, family, and community, and maybe it was something internal that I was born with. I'll never know. I've dealt with it in more ways in my life than I care to elaborate on it, but it wasn't until just recently that I realized how it affected me as a runner.
When I started running I was 10, and did it because my dad did and my brother did. Perhaps I wanted to be included - to be part of something. And maybe I was given a pat on the back - some attention for it - so I kept doing it. Somehow in there, it became natural for me to think that the faster I was, the more attention I'd receive, the better I was. Faster meant 'good enough', it meant acceptance, it meant that I was somebody special. And slower soon came to mean I wasn't 'good enough', wasn't worthy of being accepted, and wasn't really anybody of significance. For many years it became a pressure to succeed, exceed, excel - to keep getting better, or face becoming stagnant - slipping back and becoming nothing at all. My identity became and still is: 'I'm a runner'. There have been times in my life where I didn't recognize or accept myself if I wasn't running. I wasn't good enough. Years of therapy taught me to realize that I can be somebody simply by my existence. My therapist always wanted to know what I was running from. Although I hated the question - because I thought he was wrong and I just liked to run - I hated the answer even more. I was running from myself. One day I finally had to retrain myself so that I could be good enough for me and to run for myself and not to prove anything to the world at large.
But I still feel this need to run fast, and have a fear of what will happen if I don't. I've honestly never tried it. I faced having to live up to other people's expectations - what I thought was family, society, community excpectations of myself. Now I'm dealing with my own expectations. I still expect myself to run fast. But why? Why can't I just go out and run a marathon and enjoy it and not feel the need to race it? Millions of other people do it, why not me? If it's okay with me, if it's 'good enough' for me, then nothing or no one else should really matter, should it . . .