It really is all “relative,” because this post was written by my husband, Chris! (He is considered a relative now, right???) Lindsay Phillips commented on my Awkward and Awesome Thursday post 2 weeks ago asking if Chris would be writing a guest post during his Spring Break. He has! Well, it is a little late but… ‘better late than never’ right??? I think so. Enjoy!
Perspective is everything. My friend J.B. posted a picture on Facebook the other day through the windshield of his F150. He was plowing about 10 inches of snow in the parking lot of his family business. The caption read, “Ohio sucks!!” This was approximately 5 hours after an 8.9 earthquake had rocked Japan, and only minutes before the resulting tsunami was about to hit the Hawaiian coast. I sarcastically “commented” on J.B.’s picture, “not as much as Japan…” The next time I looked at his caption, it was changed to, “Ohio Rocks!” It’s all relative.
I’ll throw you another fun little example from my past. I couldn’t tell you that I was “bullied” in high school and keep a straight face (maybe middle school, but that could be its own post), but I definitely was not a linebacker who people refused to mess with either. My freshman year of college, I remember weighing myself at the climbing gym: 148 lbs. I spent a couple of years continuing to be “the skinny guy.” There are certainly worse labels to have, but some time during my junior year of college, I got sick of being labeled by a (perceived?) deficiency. I printed out an 8.5×11” sign that simply said, “GET OUT OF BED AND GO WORK OUT, YOU PUSSY!” I hung it on the ceiling above my bed, so it was the first thing I saw when I woke up. In retrospect, I was probably a bit hard on myself, but “please, if you feel like it, waking up early to go to the gym would really make you feel better about yourself” just isn’t quite motivating enough for someone who loves to sleep-in as much as I do.
I worked out relentlessly and ate everything in my path for 2 straight years. I remember mixing 36 oz protein shakes twice a day and piling multiple cans of tuna on top of freezer pizzas to make them more filling, and higher in protein. I also remember spending 1.5-2 hours at the gym, then going to class, and then back to the gym for another half hour to make sure I’d actually gotten a good workout. I couldn’t tell you exactly when it happened, but somewhere during those 2 years, I stopped being known as the skinny guy, and started being known as the guy who worked out all the time. I remember laughing when someone referred to me as “a body builder,” but it’s all relative, remember? Compared to 148 lbs. me, 187 lbs. me was quite a change. (Sara has pictures from one of the first times we met if you demand proof.)
Fast forward another 2 years. Working full time takes its toll on one’s gym schedule, but I had managed to keep on most of my workout weight. I was at a motorcycle trackday (at a race track – I can explain that in another post if anyone cares) and attending a clinic on body positioning during lunch. Now remember, I had spent the last 2-3 years with people telling me how big I was – so when the guy running the clinic said, “it’s good that we’ve got a couple of bigger guys, and a couple of smaller guys,” and pointed my direction when he referenced the smaller guys; I was kind of surprised. It only took a couple of seconds to digest what he was saying, but I was probably 60 lbs. lighter than the “big guys.” Once again, life is all relative.
Most recently, I’ve been dealing with “the curve.” For those who don’t know, law school is a “true curve,” which means that in a class of 50 people, there are maybe 10 A’s, 15 B’s, 15 C’s, 8 D’s, and 2 F’s. It’s not an exactly science, and I have yet to encounter a professor who will fail someone unless they really deserved it, but the fact is you’re no longer competing to know as much of the material as you can, you’re competing to know more than the rest of the people in your class. This is most frustrating when the exam is easy. The problem with an easy exam is that everyone does well. Very well. What that means is that you can get 2 questions wrong, and a couple of points off your essay, and suddenly you’ve got a B- despite the fact that you got 95% of the available points. Relative isn’t always a good thing.
Last example, I promise. I went running outside on Monday. The weather pretty much demanded it. In the gym locker room, I asked one of my coworkers if he would be joining me outside. “No, I did a short run yesterday, and I really need to lift today.” I was planning to do a 5K (3.1 miles). My coworker’s “short” run had been over 7 miles. Now the only reason I mention that is because it’s what got me thinking about this whole topic to begin with. There’s not much else to do during a 25 minute run other than get overly philosophical – hopefully you haven’t spent THAT long reading this! There are times to compete against the world, and times to compete against yourself. Very few of us will ever be the best at anything, but all of us can get better at something. It’s all relative.