When were we taught to compare ourselves to others? When were we taught that what someone else did was better than what we did? Did it start in grade school when we got picked last for the kickball team? Or maybe in high school when our classmate Jessica did something right while we were scolded for doing the opposite? Or was it when we got older and our best friend lifted more than we did at the gym?
Whatever the situation may be, we compare ourselves. We compare ourselves to friends, classmates, coworkers, and even our significant others. We worry about what others are accomplishing and dwell on what we have not. And while worrying, we forget our own accomplishments. We forget our goals. And we forget how far we have come.
I watch people compare themselves every day in the gym. I watch them stare at another person’s barbell while they load their own. I watch them worry about beating another person’s time so much they completely throw form out the door. And I watch others sink into frustration and sadness when they don’t beat their friend’s score. But what is that accomplishing? How are we improving ourselves if the only thing we are doing is steering off our own course and trying to follow the path of another?
As I get older and wiser (just let it be known, I’m 24 so I really know nothing), I have figured out that I don’t want to follow someone else’s path. I want to create my own destiny. And, yes, I know how lame that sounds. But I don’t want to be like anyone else. I don’t want to set my goals based on someone other than myself.
The thing is, I can’t lift 200lbs over my head. I can’t string together muscle ups like the athletes you watch on TV. And I can’t do strict handstand push ups. Yet. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked my ass off. That doesn’t mean I don’t try. That doesn’t make me a sh*tty athlete. It makes me human. And as humans, we have to work for what we want to accomplish. Thinking about what others have done doesn’t make us stronger. Getting our ass in the gym, does. Blood, sweat, and tears do.
In my 24 years of figuring out who the hell I am, I have finally figured out that I don’t want to be anyone but myself. CrossFit has taught me that comparing myself to others will get me nowhere. Hard work will. Not f*cking wishful thinking. Not hoping and dreaming to be like someone else. Setting my goals high and working to accomplish those goals are what make me who I am.
So stop comparing yourself to others. Stop trying to be someone else. Start figuring out what the hell you are going to accomplish today. Then do it.
Juli Bauer is the sole author of PaleOmg.com and a CrossFitter out of Denver, Co. Photograph of Elisabeth Akinwale at Outlaw CrossFit.