Parenting, Sentimientos

It’s Not A Competition

One of the things I frequently do to speed up the kids is make a simple task into a game.

Who can put away their things from school the fastest? Who can get all their winter gear on first? Who will be the first to get ready for bed?

Sometimes it works and other times someone gets distracted and leaves a backpack strewn on the floor, como salero, as my mom would say.

And still other times the kids object and remind me, “It’s not a competition!”

That little phrase comes to mind frequently. On the playground or school hallways it makes sense. Teachers don’t want kids tripping over themselves or fighting.

To me it’s a good reminder that I’m on my own path. So are my kids. It’s okay if my comadre’s daughter is reading well beyond grade level and my child is still learning sight words. It’s okay if my younger brother bought a home before I did. And it’s okay if a good friend gets a well-deserved promotion. Their success and talents have nothing to do with my own efforts.

Still, saying “it’s not a competition” – and believing it – hasn’t come easy. In graduate school I struggled with this. I always said my congratulations when a friend achieved an important milestone, but I didn’t feel very congratulatory. At the same time they were ticking off their goals I was struggling with motivation. I was unsure if it was the right path for me. As I saw their announcements it felt like others were finishing the race and leaving me behind.

Then I started running. I came to understand races differently. Of course there was a winner, but most of the people in the race had different goals. We wanted to finish, PR, negative split, avoid injury, take fun race photos, or just enjoy the process.

These days I still struggle with feeling like I’m behind. I talk about it with my therapist and we work on it by focusing on my strengths, accomplishments, and resources. I also remind myself that I have amazing family and friends who will support me when and if I want to work on a goal.

It’s not a competition, but that doesn’t mean I’m not moving forward and meeting my own goals on my own time.

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