Glass Ceiling

No, the other one.

Broke the 10k barrier this week and completed a 10.74k run. Took awhile, but got there in the end. Came home and high fived the dogs. Two weeks to go people! Eeeeek.

In other news, we are off to the mountains this weekend (haha, Australia doesn’t really do proper mountains, but I’ll let this one slip) just as a polar blast is ready to hit. Getting snowed in might be quite cool. Will pack some good books.

Look at that Grass! It’s so green!

stop-comparing-comic2Normally the gym makes me feel pretty good. I go at lunchtime (maybe) twice a week and come back brimming with energy, refreshed after a good sweat up followed by a nice hot shower. Last week, I came back to the office annoyed and flat. As I had been running, a stunning woman caught my eye on the treadmill beside me. Resplendent in hot pink lulu lemon, she was at least a decade younger than myself, tanned, lithe and slender. Her glossy ponytail bounced along in her runner’s rhythm. And she was up to 12 kph, and I was huffing and puffing at 10kph. Shuffling along, squat body clad in kmart gear, red face and greasy hair, I felt woefully inadequate.  Bugger. Why can’t I be like her, I thought? Why can’t I be slender and tanned? I normally wouldn’t give a shit, really. I am pleased I am jogging again and I thought I may have turned a corner as to how I look. But…. Grrrr! Why was I feeling so crap? Why the comparison?

I came back to my desk and opened an email from close friend. Said friend has been, unsuccessfully, trying to break into property market for some time, and started reading a book about property investment. ‘I’ve read two pages, and feel like a complete failure because I don’t own a house. Everyone says it’s unhealthy to compare yourself to others, but I do it all the time, and all day long.’

As we all know, comparisons with others, particularly in the hostile environment of the Melbourne property market, or against twenty somethings at the gym, are an extraordinarily negative thing to do. I quickly wrote back to said friend ‘stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone has their own path to tread.’ But of course I am a hypocrite, as I am guilty of it too.

Everyone does it. That person has that handbag, that person has that house, that person had that holiday, that person has that job – why don’t I have those things? we think to ourselves.  In this age of social media it’s more than just keeping up with the neighbours or the ladies at church, because other people’s lives and achievements are constantly in our faces. The world of visible, highly competitive happiness is everywhere, but it’s important to note that very few people present a full and realistic picture of their lives. ‘Everyone on social media manages their avatar,’ my friend P says, ‘AND it’s full of cunts humblebragging all over the place.’

Yes, we are all guilty of it. In this excellent article, psychologist Danielle Tempesta points out that ‘the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel’.

Another friend, J, comments: ‘How bad is social media though? Like if you’re single and lonely your feed will be filled with those soft focus engagement/wedding photos, and if you’ve gained a bit of weight and you’re feeling bad about it, your feed will be full people achieving goals running half marathons or on yoga retreats (no shit – I have a facebook friend at a yoga retreat in Bali this week, photos are of her actually doing a bridge in a bikini.).’

And quite apart from social media, I didn’t know the girl at the gym at all. She was young and lovely, but I didn’t know what her life was like. I could assume she was a healthy individual but that’s about all I knew about her – who was I to think she had a better life than I did. I am a healthy, successful woman in my thirties, about to get married to the love of my life. Why bother comparing myself with someone I didn’t even know?

Furthermore, it’s actually counterproductive to compare yourself unfavourably with others. Tempesta says: ‘Ruminating about how someone else is better looking, has more friends, or is more successful than you is both time-consuming and ineffective. Being hard on ourselves actually zaps motivation and decreases goal completion. If you really want to live a life that feels fulfilling you need to dedicate your time and energy to your own.’

I don’t blame my friends for comparing – it’s hard to avoid. But we need to do a lot less of it. In its most basic sense, if you compare yourself with others, you will always be losing a battle. Put your energy into yourself, because we ALL need to tread our own path.

I was at the gym at lunchtime yesterday and co-incidentally, the pink lulu girl was doing her makeup in the mirror at the same time. Now dressed and refreshed, I was feeling better about myself than I was last week. The girl caught my eye in the mirror and smiled shyly. ‘I love your scarf,’ she said, commenting on the dark blue pashmina I had hung around my neck to perk up my black corporate uniform. ‘Where did you get that?’

‘Oh, a chemist,’ I said flippantly, ‘ages ago’.

‘Oh it’s stunning‘, she said, ‘really suits you.’

‘Thanks’ I said, smiling. Marvelling at how women at the gym can bond over nothing and yet everything.

‘So jealous. I can never wear that colour.’

‘Of course you could!’ I said, not because that’s what women say, but because she could – it was an inoffensive colour.

‘No way, looks totally wrong on me’ she said, piling her hair up on her heard in a top knot. She picked up her bag and smiled again. She was really very sweet, and highly self-conscious. ‘I’ll see you later.’

‘Yeah, see ya.’ I said.

I hope she stops the comparisons. They’re not productive.

Writers’ Course

A magnificent Melbourne day greeted my (small) red wine hangover this morning – everything all reds and golds and blues. Did a rare weekend city sortie in direction of writers’ course.

It was so stimulating to think and talk about writing in a group of people. Different people at different points of the journey; people shyly sharing their ideas for their novels – some embryonic, some with 25,000 words on the board, some fully realised but in the middle of the revision process. Such a cross section of people and ages and styles too. The ‘aha’ moment for me was in the exercises we were given by our lovely tutor, to eke out more the characterisation and conflict. e.g.

  • what does your character do when they wake up in the morning?
  • where do they wake up?
  • what do they have for breakfast?

Just the mundane, that is so informing of that character and helps you (writer) get to know them. Really useful stuff.

I have a lot of work to do.

Running update: 4.3 k. One blister on foot (left) plus discovery that one dog that doesn’t like running after 2 k (Bob).

Welcome, dears.

Recently, looking for an outlet and trying to feel better about myself, I started jogging again.

(Again. That makes me sound like a fallen ex athlete – the truth is my jogging prowess has extended to a couple of meandering fun runs. I have the pics to prove it. My friend E and I did our last one in 2009, and she still has the pic stuck to her fridge: her lithe and petite, both feet off the ground with her perfect running form, beside me, doing a chubbywoman’s version of the Forrest Gump shuffle, but smiling and doing a thumbs up to the event photographer.)

So anyway, I have started jogging again, dragging dimply big legs around the suburbs wearing a polar fleece and a shiny beetroot face; and found like anything, to get better at it, one must keep doing it, and keep doing it, and keep doing it, even if one doesn’t feel like doing it – when one is hungover or has period pain (or both) and the weather is shite (we live in Melbourne).

And like jogging, I am reliably informed that the only way to get better at writing is write more. So hence, this blog. I will keep adding to it as regularly as I should.

Writing, you see, is my refuge, it is the one creative thing I enjoy (the flute, painting, and knitting were not successful) and although I ‘do’ a lot of ‘documentation’ for a living, writing creatively is something I need to do more of – it heals me, it energises me, it distracts me from the boring / the washing / the pantry / the wine bottle. (Although I probably do incorporate the final thing, e.g. now.)