Speed Jealousy

This past weekend when we were at the wedding, I was wondering what job the bride had had in Sacramento and then I remembered: she’d been in this fellowship I’d been rejected from. I’d totally forgotten about being rejected from that. Thanks for bringing it up.

The other day I realized/found out this guy who was in my thesis class in college, who I knew acquaintance-level well, had been nominated for and won all these big journalism awards. I read his story. It was good, but was it something I couldn’t have done? I don’t know.

I know, logically, that someone else doing well does not stop me from doing well — except in races, when only one person can win. If anything, it’s better to have important, powerful friends, right? I know that we’re supposed to be happy for other people. And, most of the time I am. I am happy for them getting cool jobs and earning fellowships and winning races and setting PRs. But, man, I’m also usually annoyed it isn’t me. Even when it’s not something I wanted in the first place.

While I can get sucked down the internet rabbit-hole of Googling people whose lives I wish I had pretty easily, it’s particularly transactional in sports. There’s only so many spots at the top. That’s just a fact. It may not be a fact we want to acknowledge, but that doesn’t make it untrue. It also can make for an interesting mental game: this is my friend, I’m going to try and beat my friend, and then we’ll be friends again. If you’re honest with yourself, it’s not a game most people play 100% well.

In a race, I’ll help people having crap days if I can and I’ll feel bad when a friend’s race goes to shit, but I’m not the only person who sizes up the competition based on how they look or sees someone with a flat and thinks, somewhere in the back of my mind, ‘well, at least that’s one less person to worry about.’ (To be clear, I don’t usually carry stuff to fix flats in races, so there’s not anything I could do to help.)

The hardest to deal with for me (and I’m guessing for lots of people who prefer not to acknowledge it) are the people who were the same speed as you, but are now way faster. How did they get faster? Why didn’t you get faster? Does that mean you should have gotten faster, but you screwed something up? Or, does it mean they were never really your speed anyway? Is there only so much speed to go around? What am I doing wrong? What’s wrong with me?

You can spend hours playing this version of the game.

I bet you think I’m going somewhere with this, somewhere that ends on a positive, uplifting note. Nope. Sometimes there’s nothing to do but say ‘yeah, that can be rough’ and laugh about how many hours you spent being reading the blogs of some girl with a crazy number of followers when she’s not even that much prettier or faster than you. Oh well. I’m sure someone who’s a better writer than I am would have had more insight, more to say. I bet they would have inspired people and lit a candle in the dark and been a beacon of hope that I could never be. Thanks for bringing that up.


5 thoughts on “Speed Jealousy

  1. Well, I have been reading your blogs for a bit, and here is a couple things I am not sure about. Now I know you were burnt out of triathlon, and maybe partly because you didn’t think you were quite good enough.

    Things I don’t know:

    1. What are your running goals?? Eventually sub: 3:00??
    2. Why the Ironman?? To prove you can do it?? Everyone else is doing it??
    3. What do you want out of life?? I don’t think you know.
    4. What would make you happy and content??

    There is a lot to your life, and I find you pretty interesting, and mostly because you are far from perfect, and are not afraid to show it. The wind seems to whip you around a bit though. You are going to do this, and then that, and now this.

    To which I must assume you don’t really know what you want from life. You know you want something better than how you feel now, but what??

    Anyway take care, and keep being who you are, because that seems to be a pretty cool person who has a lot of confidence. confidence doesn’t mean we always feel were the shit, but confidence is definitely putting our shit out there for people to see.

    1. Well, I don’t know if it really matters if you know those questions or if they’re relevant here. The whole ‘oh my god, what do you want out of life’ thing is a bit overwrought. I mean, most people don’t know, those that do are frequently lying, and there’s no real point in knowing anyway because life is life and it changes and doesn’t end up the way you thought it would for better or worse anyway.

      This isn’t really AT ALL about me being unhappy or not knowing what to do with my life or some huge psychological issue. It’s just about the fact that most of the time we’re jealous of other people who are better or faster or have the job we want or whatever. And, that’s particularly true in races and sports, because it’s quantitative and not win-win. So, stop pretending that I’m the crazy one for thinking that and that everyone else is always happy for everyone all the time.

  2. Hey Kelly, loved your post. I like reading your blog because of your honesty, because you don’t try and bullshit a happy ending when there isn’t one. This envy you’re writing about is one of the unifying human traits and it’s fine to feel it, better to recognise it and best of all to understand it so that it doesn’t become corrosive.

  3. You can perceive it as jealousy, but this is the essence of competition. It’s a huge mental game as much as anything, and it is not easy.

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