Letting Friends Inspire & Avoiding the Comparison Trap
I have a ton of amazing people in my life, from pro athletes at the top of their game to people who are fantastic all-around athletes crushing it at having a life and a job that isn’t racing. I’m so lucky that in the last few years, I’ve been able to develop so many friendships with amazing women. That said, I have to admit that sometimes, it’s easy to end up feeling a little envious (which honestly, is sort of the kinder way to express feelings of ‘raging jealousy’) of the people I know who are absolutely crushing it. It’s easy to compare lives and, no matter how content you are with your current state of being, you can find places that you’re coming up short.
When it comes to feeling jealous, I don’t think that it matters how successful you are. I love what I do, I am reasonably fast on the bike or on the trail when I train for it, I have fantastic friends and a great husband. I’m not doing too bad. There’s always room for improvement, of course, and that’s part of being a Type A person / a person who wants to make a comfortable living and feel good. That’s not a bad thing, and more and more, I’m seeing people talk about how there isn’t really one metric for ‘success’ or one official ‘made it’ moment. (I can’t really imagine what that would feel like, honestly… Being done? What?!)
Anyway, back to my main point here. As an example: When I hang out with my pro cyclist friends, it’s easy to immediately start wondering if I should be training more, if I could have done something differently when I was younger to put me on the ‘going pro’ path. Comparing directly, not taking into account any other factors about my life and theirs. It’s tempting to go down that rabbit hole…. But in the last year, I’ve noticed that I’m finally not hearing that little voice as often: Instead, I’m starting to feel more and more excited for my friends’ successes, and feeling super inspired by them versus self-conscious about not being in the same exact spot.
Recently, we were staying at a friends’ house en route to another event, and we had some time to really catch up with them for a full 24 hours. We had dinner, we stayed up late chatting over a glass (or two) of wine, we went out for a run in the morning… It was a fantastic time. And normally, I think I’d be feeling all sorts of feelings of envy. Their life seemed amazing.
But I wasn’t feeling that—rather, I was feeling absolutely inspired.
Part of that was the fact that these friends are some of the most positive people I’ve ever met… Not in an annoying way, but they manage to find bright spots in everything, accentuate the positive, and seek out solutions when faced with negatives, rather than just complaining. It’s a calming sort of positivity.
Beyond that, seeing this crew really embracing a holistically healthy lifestyle—not kooky, not insanely rigid—was inspiring. Again, I admit that I occasionally get caught up in seeing other people’s healthy habits and start feeling like I don’t measure up. (Ahem, latest Consummate Athlete Podcast episode tackles this!)
As we drove away from their house, it struck me that a couple of years ago, I would have likely left feeling kind of down on myself, like their lifestyle somehow impacted mine. But this time, I realized, I was just really excited about the positive experience & vibes. (I started writing this post then, put it in drafts and forgot about it until a week ago when I struggled out of bed for a 5AM sunrise core session with the crew of women I’m friends with here in town, and left that session with the same feeling of inspiration, not a desire to measure up to all of them.)
It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, and I think part of the reason it wasn’t until the last couple years that I started developing more and more female friendships stems from the fact that I sometimes had a hard time avoiding competitive feelings. That’s not something that’s particularly pleasant to admit, but it’s something I want to own up to, and constantly strive to keep behind me.
So, to all of the wonderful, inspiring, hella motivating friends I have now, you’re all the best and I spend pretty much every day absolutely blown away by what the women I know are accomplishing on the daily.
For anyone still struggling to get past those feelings of comparison, coming up short, struggling not to compete—try to shift your focus just a few degrees. Instead of comparing yourself, try to get inspired to make changes that actually make sense in your own life. (Umm, avoid single-white-femaling your friends in the process though!)
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