From Sundi Jo: This is a guest post by Emily Wenstrom. Emily is a professional writer working in marketing and public relations. She blogs about creativity in art and career at Creative Juicer. She also recently launched wordhaus, a short story zine built for the digital age, now seeking submissions. Follow her on Twitter at @emilywenstrom. Want to submit your guest post? Click here for the details.
I hate the Olympics.
Growing up, I was a swimmer. It was a big part of my identity–three different teams took up significant parts of my mornings, evenings, weekends and summers.
Then in 2000, I was watching the amazing Amanda Beard at the summer Olympics, and it hit me: she was only a couple older than me. She’d already won medals in the last Olympics, at 14 years old. She was up there on the world stage, and I was at home on my couch.
Ever since, the Olympics, a messy mix of emotions. I still get that sense of wonder and awe. But I also can’t quite let go of that sense that I don’t cut it.
These days, as a writer, I get a similar feeling at Barnes and Noble as I skim shelf after shelf of successful authors.
It’s petty. It’s egotistical. It’s stupid. And it gnaws at me all the same. I have a natural competitive tendency, and a hunger to constantly better myself. Those qualities can be a double-edged sword, and they often work against me in these moments
And I’ve had enough of it. It’s exhausting.
So I’m making some changes—I am determined to be a more positive person. Here’s how I’m doing it:
I’m starting a gratitude journal.
At the end of each day, I write down five things I’m grateful for in my notebook. It’s training my brain to think in positive terms.
I’m arguing with my inner dialogue.
I get caught up in comparisons, often ridiculous ones. With swimming I compared myself to an Olympian. At work I compare myself managers and seasoned experts. With writing, I compare myself to the masters. I’m learning to catch myself when I do this, and to talk myself back down to reason.
I’m looking back to where I came from.
It’s easy to look up to the top of a mountain and feel it will never get any closer. But if you dare to look down to the ground, you’ll see how much higher up you’ve gotten. Progress is slow. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. And heck, maybe I’ll see someone behind me who could use a hand up every now and then.
And you know what else I’ve been doing? I’ve been following the Olympics this summer. Not religiously, but I flip to it when I’ve got some downtime at night. It turns out, when I stop worrying about how I measure up, I am free to start marveling at their amazing feats. And it starts to be kind of fun.
Yes, even the swimmers.
What are you holding onto today that you need to let go of? Leave a comment below…