…or any other public person who seems to have a super-duper life – and you’re kind of sitting around and wishing you had that kind of a life, and you think you can’t, so you start feeling bad about yourself, and then your self-care suffers as a result, tra la la…well, this is the post for you.
First published on January 31, 2014, right before the Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl, this post speaks to the fear I think all of us have about not being good enough, or renowned enough, or accomplished enough. It is so, so easy to fall into the trap that the celebrity-driven media machine creates for us to unfairly compare our insides to other people’s outsides. This post was about the celebration of a great football season and a terrific new leader in Seattle – but it’s also about giving ourselves a break, and achieving greatness on our own terms.
If you wish you were Russell Wilson, read this post.
So…here’s what I’m thinking about on this fine Friday morning. After two weeks of nonstop media coverage, it is insanely easy during Super Bowl week (or during the Olympics, or during the World Series, or during any really high-profile sports event), to regress to a kind of high school mentality: The jocks are so cool. I wish I was one of them. And the most insidious thought: I could never do what they do.
It’s hard not to be bowled over by Russell Wilson’s confidence. He’s been trained from a very young age to believe in his self-worth. His father told him “Why not you?” when he wondered if he could make it in football. (I love that story, because it’s something one of my writing mentors said in a workshop I attended last year where we were talking about how to get published in, say, the New York Times.) He went to great schools and the Manning Passing Academy, where he was coached personally by the quarterback who’s competing against him in the Super Bowl on Sunday. He had the wherewithal to find a school that would take him in his last year of college eligibility – in an NFL-style offense, no less – so that he could get ready for the 2012 NFL draft. He became class president in high school, team captain at Wisconsin, team captain for the Seahawks. And..get this…he’s nice. A genuinely nice, decent guy, married since January 2012, stable, all together. [Editor’s note, May 29, 2014: Since this blog post was first published, Wilson has, sadly, announced his divorce. I join many others in wishing both he and his former wife the very best.]
Don’t you just want to be this guy? And don’t you feel bad that you’re not? And might that affect your sense of self-worth, and by association, affect your commitment to taking care of yourself through regular exercise? After all, if you can’t be “DangeRuss” and get all the admiration for being exactly what our culture rewards right now at this time in history, what’s the point of trying at all?
Okay. So that’s what I’m talking about today. And I want to make something very clear. Two things, really.
(1) Elite sports are among the hardest professions in the modern world. Injuries, fame, hangers-on, the weird world of celebrity and sound bites and media pressures and chronic pain and trying to meet everyone else’s expectations and having about a three-year window to compete at the highest level unless you’re insanely exceptional…this is not a fun world. As someone who has covered this world and talked with some of the planet’s most famous athletes, let me reiterate: this is not a fun world. It can be managed well, and I think our starting quarterbacks on Sunday have done just about as good a job of managing that world as one could hope for, but it’s very tough.
(2) We can be our own inspirations. We don’t need to live and die by the exploits of a sports team and get a vicarious thrill by watching them compete, and think that their wins or losses somehow affect our own self-esteem. If we get out there and take care of ourselves and compete on our own terms, in our own playgrounds, we’re going to be successful in our own right.
(2.5) One more small thought. Charisma and the ability to positively influence others comes in many forms. I’ve watched a successful Weight Watchers member gently and quietly talk another member off the ledge when that member was struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you become an example to others of what living healthfully can achieve, you are by definition influential, inspirational, and charismatic. Trust me on this. Somebody out there is watching you – and is learning from your example.
So on Sunday, I will go out in the morning for a long run (Monday is 11 weeks until the Boston Marathon). And then my hubby and I will watch the Super Bowl together, because we watch every Seahawks game together. (And every Packers game too – their season ended too soon this year.) My self-esteem that day will come not from whether Russell Wilson and our band of brothers called the ‘Hawks pull it off against a formidable Denver Broncos team. It will come from fulfilling the commitment I’ve made to working out every 48 hours this year, and the commitment I’ve made to my family to be healthy and strong. That’s one of the big reasons I’m not in New York right now covering this Super Bowl, by the way, or in Sochi getting ready for the Winter Olympics. I’ll get back there when the time is right. When I do, you can bet I’ll be doing it healthfully, because I’m locking in the habit of getting after it every 48 hours right here. Keep me accountable on this one.
Have a great weekend. See you on Monday for the next installment of #every48. Thank you so much to the 150 people who found this blog in its very first month of existence and generated 308 page views. That means somebody is reading this blog.
And that means I have to keep doing it. See, Richard Sherman? I like to write checks I’m going to have to cash, too. <wink>
Seriously. See the wink? Right over there. —->
And, just in case we’re not clear about Sunday: #GOHAWKS. I do hope Peyton has a great game too. Ridiculously legendary athlete there. But still. #GOHAWKS