As a runner for most of my life, this has long been one of my favorite quotes:
"Beating the competition is relatively easy, but beating yourself is a never-ending commitment."
I could never really remember where it came from, or who to give credit to, until I just found this on a runner's blog. I think my brother had that poster on his wall when I was a kid. I remember cutting out the words from somewhere - maybe the poster or a magazine ad, and taking them with me to college to post on a bulletin board. I still have them in a file somewhere. I still don't know who to give credit to for writing it - someone at Nike has had a huge impact on my life. Those words meant something when my brother would quote them in a letter or recite them while we were out on a run - wise advice from an inspirational sibling. Those words taught me to look within from beginning to end, no matter what the rest of the field was doing. It's you that you go home with at the end of the day, and you that you need to feel happy with. It's your own reality that you live with.
I've struggled recently with my title statement - the idea of competition breeding success. It feels like that's what the world says, until I sit back and remember that success lies within. I'd have to better define success as truly defining who you are and being able to live to that potential to the best of your ability.
My recent quandary? Registering the oldest child for middle school. Fortunately in life, you have the power of decision, and the power to choose. In the Emerald City, the choices are baffling. We live in an area where the public school system is called a 'choice' district - really meaning - you choose. Often, in other places, your schooling is decided by residence or by income. Surely, those things factor in here is well. It could range anywhere from home-schooling to the private, elite schools. The public school system here allows you to choose from any school in the district - residence area is a priority, not a requirement. Within this public system, free to the common tax-paying citizen - are a myriad of selections: the neighborhood school, the advanced academic placement school, the alternative school, the athletic school, the rich school, the poor school, the multilingual school, the expeditionary model, the outdoor education school, the school for the social elite . . .
Which one is best for our child?
If competition were to breed success, it would follow that our child should be placed in a school with the utmost academic standards. Perhaps the choice should be a school with the wealthy in attendance to be able to better fund extra opportunites, furnishings, buildings, learning materials.
But then the reminder - competition does breed success - but that competition lies within - being true to who you are and what you can become with that self. And true success can only be measured in the eyes of the beholder. So - a school with a place that will allow a child to compete with oneself would then become the goal. It would have to be a place that mimics that core value, and brings out the best of the whole person in that child - academically, emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc. As parents, making that decision for an 11-year-old child, is perhaps the most difficult decision we've had to make.
The rest of the story becomes long and political - with school visits, tours, application dates and times, waiting lists, priorities. We'll know results in early April, but they might not be finalized until August. But we did find that school. It just felt right more than anything, and it blew us away. The process really forced me to look at our children and who they really are, and how to bring out their personalities and motivate them. I'll post more on the school in detail when we find out if she got in or got put on the waiting list.
On running notes - the quote has put things in perspective for me today. Running is all about how I interpret it for myself on a given day. Running Boston with an injury will be interesting. It's still day to day right now with how my legs feel, but I still intend to make the most of the experience. And I believe I am in Wave #2, -not officially, but by looking at my bib number on the website. Considering my slower race with an injury, that's a good thing at this point, and it'll force me to relax and enjoy it.