Comparison is the thief of joy.
A year ago, this weekend, I walked 100km (62.137 miles) along the canal paths between Glasgow and Edinburgh … in one go … we set off on the Saturday morning and arrived on the Sunday!
This week I climbed a Munro … Ben Lawers … the 10th highest mountain in Scotland!
There was, however, the small matter of Beinn Ghlas – a second Munro (rather inconveniently!) in the way … so we actually climbed two Munros!! 3,100 feet of climbing to a final height of 4,027 feet … 4 miles up … 4 painful miles back down!
It felt like a tenth of the distance for ten times the effort!
Last year I was sore and tired … this week I think I am broken!! Well … apart from my vocal chords which are not broken and are voicing their objection (quite loudly!) to each movement that I have made over the last two days!!
A year has brought a lot less fitness … a lot more weight … lockdown feet that haven’t been walking for months … so, so many reasons to why my body is objecting strongly to being put through its paces!
Walking with mountain goat daughter and husband it was easy to feel like the ‘fat girl at the back‘!
Last year there was never a point where I thought I wouldn’t get to the end of the 100km … this year when I saw the summit of Ben Lawers there was a part of me that wanted to say ‘I can see the top … that’s close enough … that’ll do!‘ But I knew that I would have been denying myself that sense of achievement … that third Munro bagged … the view that I knew would be spectacular … and most importantly lunch (which was already at the top) and a promised cup of tea!
I’m not sure which of those factors motivated me the most to press on to the top … but had I realised then that I had left the teabags back at the holiday lodge I may just have stayed put and waited for the mountain goat duo to come back down and just meet me where I was! Who knew that hot watery milk actually tastes alright after you’ve worked hard for it!
We can be well aware that comparison with others is often not a helpful, or healthy, thing … but sometimes it is a comparison with ourselves that is the most destructive.
Comparing ourselves to how we used to be … our expectations of what we would like to be … our hopes of what we might want to achieve … can all really steal the joy of the moment that we are actually experiencing … or harder still can stop us even pursuing those experiences.
If I had been choosing the route I would have chosen something much more ‘achievable’ … something flatter that I knew I could achieve comfortably.
But … sometimes … we need to be pushed out of our comfort zones so that we can get to the end of the day and be able to say ‘I’m proud of me!’
Sometimes … it is other people who know that we can stretch ourselves just that little bit higher … push that little bit harder … go that little bit further … sometimes it is in trusting them that our internal voice of self comparison is silenced … and we find that we are able do what we weren’t entirely convinced that we could.
I might have been the fat girl at the back …
… BUT …
I climbed two Munros … in one day … I saw the most spectacular views … I had a splendid day with my mountain goat companions …
… and I have walked from Glasgow to Edinburgh … in one go …
… no comparison required … no joy stolen …
… they are both achievements in their own right …
… and I can be proud of achieving both!
Sometimes we need to tell ourselves the truth … and choose to believe it!