What a Blue Ribbon Won’t Tell You

My girls are on the neighborhood swim team this year. They began practices after school for several weeks in May and had their first meet last Tuesday. It has been awesome and they are learning a lot.

So am I.

Kaitlyn is in the 7-8 age group and spends most of the time in her own little world. At last week’s meet, she finished her races. She didn’t have to stop and rest, which is pretty much the best I can say. She is having a ball and learning how to swim better! Last week she got ribbons for fifth and sixth places, and she was happy with that.

Lauren is in the 9-10 age group and seems to have more natural ability. The child can do a pretty good butterfly, which blows my mind. Last week, she walked away with all five of her ribbons being for second place. It was her very first meet, and she was amazing.


Then this week happened.

Butterfly was her fourth out of five races, and she was exhausted getting out of the water. I could see she was upset, so I pulled her aside. She started to cry and said she wasn’t going to get second places this time. Last week, she had set herself up for disappointment and assumed she would always get second place or even first. Oh, darling girl, this is a hard lesson to learn.

We talked to her about looking at her time from both weeks and comparing that. She shouldn’t worry about winning, but, rather, focus on improving her own time from week to week. She just started and has the potential to be great. I don’t want her to get sidetracked and discouraged already.

It occurred to me the next day how similar I can be. No, I can’t do the butterfly, but I compare myself to others way too often. I look at where I lack and where people around me seem to be rocking, and I feel like a failure. I don’t think about the things I do well but dig that pit so I can sink deeper. Poor pitiful me.

When I think about all the times I failed or just didn’t perform as well as I had hoped, I am glad they happened. At the time, it hurts so much. After time has passed, I can see how I picked myself up and tried again. Or I tried something new. The falling down pushes me to do better the next time. I have to keep trying.

Comparing myself to the progress of others does nothing for me. It makes me feel bad for myself and that leads to stagnation. However, when I look and see how far I have come, I stay on the right course. I know what to adjust and keep moving.

By the way, the child got third place for butterfly, so don’t feel too bad for her.

Linking with Holley Gerth


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