After that last post I got some feedback from a few people that was a little defensive. Even though I never said I hated runners, or that I thought they were stupid, my highly satirical post was interpreted as an attack. My original plan was to blow it off.
But then I read this op-ed at the Wall Street Journal. And this response to the WSJ piece at Runner’s World. And I thought about the conversation I had with T-Wizzle about my original post:
Me: I was writing satire à la Andy Rooney, but apparently it was lost on a few people. And I thought my joke about carbo loading was funny.
T-Wizzle: What was the joke?
Me: It was that carbo loading doesn’t have to do with a clown named Carbo offering gun safety tips while speaking only in gerunds.
T-Wizzle: That IS funny.
Me: I knew you’d like that one.
T-Wizzle: The problem is no one ever wants to feel bad. If you’re not validating what they’re doing, then they feel bad and get defensive. It’s called self-esteem because it comes from YOU, not anyone else.
I thought she had a good point. Now, if you’re a runner, or you are intimately involved with a runner, I want you to read this next part very carefully.
I don’t hate runners. Not at all. I understand that training for marathons and other races is intense. It’s a big world out there, though, and there is so much happening, and I know all you runners are so much greater than the sum of your pedometers. If you feel the need to broadcast your training regimen because it helps you stay motivated and feel accountable, that is absolutely your prerogative. But I’ll be honest: I care about you as YOU. Not as runner you, or philanthropist you, or computer geek you. All the parts of you are not as important to me as the complete package.
In the last few months I’ve noticed the lengths I will go to for validation. I want people to praise me ad nauseam. I want accolades and acclaim for my writing. But that doesn’t happen. There is no algorithm or SEO keywords that guarantees I’ll be validated 100% of the time for 100% of my work & activities. That’s where the self- part of self-esteem kicks in. I’m the only one who can validate me 100% of the time. This has been a very difficult lesson to learn.
I’m still going to make jokes about anything & everything. Not everyone will think they are funny. I’m still going to write, because it’s part of my identity. Not everyone is going to like my articles, stories, poems, blog posts. But as long as I am okay with me, as long as I’m loving who I am regardless of what I’m joking about or writing, it doesn’t really matter who is a Moxie fan or who isn’t.
So keep on doing what you’re doing, whether you’re running, walking, writing, reading, eating chips, or watching TV. I’ll go do my thing. And when we meet, whether it’s virtually or in the real world, let’s just enjoy each other’s company, validation not required.