Why I Love Being Rubbish

I upped my distance to eight miles yesterday. A very slow eight miles, but eight miles nonetheless. It was a beautiful autumn day, a total contrast to the heavy rain and high winds which swept across Northern Ireland on Saturday. I’m nowhere near the level I was running at, even six months ago. A couple of gears have disappeared, but I’m just grateful I’m out there at all. I’ve missed running.

The old me would have been disgusted with yesterday’s effort. For the old me was all about getting faster and stronger. This was the fuel which fed a ravenous ego, a vanity which was out of control. The old me was all about personal bests, losing weight and impressing people. I was all about image and self. At the time I thought I was coolness personified. Looking back now, Mr. Cool just leaves me cold.

I was running two races a month then, always pushing. Races ended with inane grins for mindless selfies, which were posted straight onto my Instagram account. It was the most shallow of existences. On the surface I pretended that all was well, but beneath the cracks were deepening and widening. My body was becoming leaner and stronger, but my soul was withering away to nothing.

I remember running a half marathon a few years ago, where I posted a personal best, my fastest time ever. I should have been ecstatic. But I hated every step of the run, as I raced pedal to the medal, oblivious to the cheering crowds, unable to soak up any of the carnival atmosphere. All I cared about were my mile splits and getting to the finish line as quickly as possible. It was a means to an end, nothing else.

As I crossed the line, there was no sense of joy or achievement. There was nobody there to greet me. I collected my medal, took the statutory selfie, got in the car and drove home. For I was furious. Furious that a rival of mine had run a quicker time. My life revolved around comparing myself to others and straining to be bigger and better than them. Pathetic thoughts from a pathetic mind.

I was the healthiest I had ever been. I used to brag that I was in the best shape of my life, as fit as a fiddle. I was running like the wind, and alcohol free. Yet there was a different poison coursing through my veins. A poison as deadly as the strongest alcohol. I was consumed by it, it blinded me to the truth and led me down paths I never dreamed I would ever travel. Paths of shame, pain and destruction.

My ego still lurks beneath the surface, waiting for the slightest whiff of an opportunity. If I allow it out of its cell, if I allow it to run unchecked it will wreak havoc, destroying all in its path. It is a battle which I must win, there is no other option available to me. It must remain shackled and chained, deep inside the dungeon of my subconscious. It sulks and pouts. It waits and watches. I must be ever vigilant.

So I run, and continue to reap the physical and mental benefits of an activity which has been such an integral part of my life in recent years. But I run slowly, far from the cheering crowds and shiny medals. They mean nothing to me. I’m running some of the slowest times I’ve ever clocked in recent times. There are no selfies, no personal bests. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt prouder than I did after my eight mile plod yesterday.

How do you control your ego?

49 thoughts on “Why I Love Being Rubbish

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  1. Thank you for sharing and for your transparency in this struggle! Great read.

    I avoid certain people or conversations that may lead to me trying to prove myself. And I keep close to specific friends and have those hard conversations where they hold me accountable when they see my intentions sliding in the wrong direction.

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  2. Some of us gave deflated egos. We could use an ego boost. We think too lowly of ourselves. But I will say my ego comes out in marriage arguments. Usually I can’t help it but I often apologize when it happens. It doesnt make me feel very good, that’s for sure!

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      1. Hey! Thank you! That means a lot. I feel like I change too often, but I think I might actually enjoy it now. It’s hard to find the sweet spot of writing. There’s so many thing you COULD talk about, but I sometimes ramble or sound negative. I wasn’t liking where that was going in myself, so I gave myself permission to start over :). I feel much better about the writing I’m putting forth now.

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  3. So so so much of this I can relate to – that lonely drive home wearing a shiny medal that no one really cares about – even you – because you’re disappointed in yourself — again. Been there. Trying to recover and enjoy instead. It’s a hard journey though.

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  4. I have heard it said that ego stands for “easing God out”. For me it is not about controlling my ego, it’s more about ignoring it and letting my focus be on God. If I do that all is well, the minute I “ease God out’ all many of disaster and discomforts enter in. But I think you may be too hard on yourself. I think you could be a little more gentle with yourself. We are all only human after all. It sounds like you have found peace – and that is a treasure beyond any…wishing you blessings of health, peace, and tranquility.

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  5. Great post. To limit my ego..which if left rampant leads to a kind of mania..I use the scripture..
    Learn of me..for I am meek n lowly in heart.
    Peace friends. God bless.

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  6. There was a movie made years ago, I’m trying to remember the name, and who was in it (which is sad because he’s a really good actor). The character had been a marathon runner, won a bunch of them, and had even been on the Olympic team. Now here he was years later, older, a little beat up in life, and away from running for years. Now he’s wanting to prove to himself he can still do it. He’s not interested in beating anyone, just himself. So he’s so far back in the pack he can’t see the finish line, but he found a dynamic he’d never experienced before. That was everyone was who were cheering each other on, pushing one another for another hundred yards or quarter mile.

    That’s how life should be. Most of us don’t care about being the first or even second across the line. All we want is to cross the line. And we’ll never do it without encouragement or encouraging one another.

    I learned that as an old man (29 in US Army Basic training) who developed a love for running. I was old enough to provide the leadership these young people needed, but they had me in the physical department (the next oldest man in my unit was 24, and he was a linebacker for the Seahawks). So while I could teach them to think ahead and solve problems, they taught me something I’d lost at that was tenacity. This was all about crossing that line.

    And no, you’re not rubbish. You’re humble.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When you cross into marathon running an eight mile run slow or fast seems like a normal two mile run to normal people. So the fact you can take time off and go run 8, and still walk the next day screams loudly about your fitness. I’ll cut myself slack, if you will cut yourself as well. Easier said than done.
    Here of late I have found my best creative ideas come when walking to and from the gas station for coffee. And that pace is almost twenty minutes per mile! Think what might come over you with you “slow” (still way faster than me) times.

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  8. I think getting older is part of that, reaching an age that you release you can be happy without requiring the approval of others. I may never reach my goal of being a nationally known cartoonist or writer, but I’m ok with that. I’ve been able to entertain some people and make some people. I’ve readjusted my definition of success. It’s no longer a matter of numbers.

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  9. I’ve had a struggle controlling my ego lately. So unlike where I was a year ago when I confessed my affairs to my husband.
    Luckily, it’s not the same ‘type’ of ego anymore. I don’t get hung up on myself in the way I used to. It’s more of a take pride in my work ego and try to help someone in the process, but it’s still a battle shutting up that “Demi Lavato Sorry Not Sorry” side of me sometimes.

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