“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I’m a woman with a Ph.D. who has completed an ultra marathon, 13 marathons, and about 50 half marathons. Along the way I lost 100 pounds and quit a stable, full-time job to take a leap for my professional and personal future. Within the past year I wrote for a running blog, cultivated social media for a local club, and balanced four part-time jobs.
I am used to be in the arena. Strength and persistence are my middle names. Although I struggle with depression, I show up where I need to be each and every time. I may skip out on the social night, but I will be there for work and if anyone needs me. I can handle dust, sweat, and blood.
What I can’t handle is praise.
There are plenty of reasons for this struggle; enough to keep my counselor and I talking for the next few years. But right now, this season, that’s not the point.
For Lent this year, I attempted to give up deflecting praise. And it was / is freaking hard.
It’s hard to have someone call me Dr. DuMez, and rather than say it’s no big deal, say thank you and maybe talk about the 257 page dissertation that got me there. Plus five years of sacrificing time, money, and effort. Plus all the hundreds of other pages written and thousands of pages red. Plus the speech at graduation that I made up in progress and was damn proud of (I even watched my video without cringing).
It’s hard to have someone comment on all of the races I’ve completed, and to not respond about my middle-of-the-pack speed or how anyone can do it. To instead say thank you and talk about feeling strong and the joys (along with the pains) of running. And about how I’m two hours faster than I used to be in the marathon, and I know I can do better. And about how well my body recovers after a race so what I currently lack in speed, I make up for in amazing endurance.
It’s hard to have a guy call me beautiful, and to not suspect that he isn’t just saying it for some booty call or other not gonna happen reason. To instead trust that a guy could mean it. That the guy who is just hoping for a booty call (bad Bumble Boy!), could also be right that I’m funny. That the guy who said I was sexy was right, and then was deleted from my app. That the guys who swiped right didn’t do it by accident. And that the guys I swiped left on, weren’t worthy of me.
Yes, in the midst of this year’s Lent, I dove into Adventures in Online Dating (more stories to come I’m sure). While I attempted to accept the praise of friends and coworkers without deflections, I also have these “strangers” to process through. Can I tap the like button for the hot guy or should I just be waiting for someone to pick me? Do I have to respond to that guy’s boring message? Am I allowed to block a guy who says something rude? Should I even be on this thing?
For Lent 2019, I decided to give up deflecting praise. To say thank you for the kind words others gave me and try as hard as possible to believe them as truth.
Along the way, there was dating (then ghosting), job offering (then ghosting), a car accident, food poisoning, and a weekend road trip for marathon 13. I was hoping to learn how to accept the good people and good words in my life. Instead, some floodgates of experience opened up with a tsunami of people and words to swim through. And I’m happy to report: I’m still breathing.
And what did I learn this Lenten season:
- I deserve to swipe right on good guys, and swipe left on blehs.
- I deserve to be swiped right for my heart, brain, and body (not booty!).
- I deserve to be in the arena.
One of the podcasts I listen to, Ali on the Run, has a series of quick questions for guests at the end of each episode. One of them is “What are three things you love about yourself?”
That is my question for you, dear reader.
- I love my endurance, that I can run a marathon on Saturday and go for a walk on Sunday.
- I love my sense of humor, that I can always make myself laugh and usually other people too.
- I love my vulnerability, that I can be impacted by others around me and work freaking hard to make it better for them.
Now without deflecting, minimizing, or in any way taking away from your amazingness: What are three things you love about yourself?