Being like everyone else

We live in a world that loves uniformity. Don’t stand out. Stay in line. Stop showing off.

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A world where fitness centers can kick you out for working harder than everyone else, which is “intimidating.” A world where everyone who does not act just like you is open to ridicule.

I stumbled upon one of the all-too-common articles written by non-runners who wish to bash runners for not being like everyone else, which I often ignore, but this passage stood out:

You and the rest of your slob friends are at the bar, getting drunk (because that is what you do at bars) when a young lady or gentleman walks in and you notice they are not drinking. Someone inevitably asks them the logical question, “Dude, why aren’t you drinking?” The question the marathonite has been jonesing to be asked all night; the entire reason they went to the bar. So, the douche runner responds, “because I am training for the marathon and I have a 16-miler tomorrow.” Really? You do? So why aren’t you home watching a movie? Or hanging out with your douche runner-group? Oh yeah. Because you want all of us to know how awesome your self-discipline is. I think I am going to drive my car 6mph alongside one of those runner groups and blast club music as I drink just so they can know how it feels.

Really?

Don’t be the rest of the world. Don’t let them break you. Don’t let them force you into the box that they think is the right way to live.

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Go out and do what you want to do. See the world. Conquer your next challenge. Learn something new. Whatever it is that makes you you, go do it!

Most people don’t have the will to do this. They take what they are given, stay in their comfort zone, watch the latest reality TV drama, buy the products that advertizing says they should have.

And through all of this, they can’t find why they don’t feel fulfilled. Depression finds its way in, so they treat it with whatever drug is the new cool thing, or self-medicate with alcohol. And never realize that the reason that there is a void that needs filled, is because life in the comfort zone is hollow.

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But the 2% of the population breaks out of this mould. We go as hard as we can for as long as we can at our chosen pursuits. And when we’ve given it all we have, we rest up and get back up to do it again.

I spent the first 30 years of my life in the 98% trying to be like everyone else. Starving for something more, but not knowing what more there was and programmed to stay where I was comfortable. Work your job, watch TV, go out to eat, get drunk with your friends, don’t try anything new, don’t go anywhere where you do not have a perfect itinerary with people to guide you only where you want to go.

I cannot think of a single memory from that time that I really and truly treasure. 30 years without a high point? And the life I had was considered normal?

I joined the 2% that don’t give a damn what the 98% think just before my 31st birthday, and both the memories and the odd stares from bystanders came in numbers I never could have anticipated.

The bar-goers watching us carry a log through downtown Columbus, as we gave them the excuse of, “We were out drinking, and we lost a bet…”

The woman who I helped across an obstacle at Warrior Dash, who immediately tackle-hugged me as soon as I had cleared the obstacle.

My boss looking at the events on my calendar, and having the reaction of,”You’re going to England? England England? For the weekend? To crawl through the mud? In January?” and walking out of the room looking a little dazed.

Driving through Montreal at 2 in the morning, looking over the guardrail and realizing I’m looking across the deck of a freight ship on the river.

The reactions of people who just use treadmills for cardiovascular health when they see me trudging along next to them, incline as high as I can handle, gas mask covering my face and 50 pounds on my back.

Feeling the rush that came from the cheers at the finish line, and cheering my fellows on to finish.

Traveling to places where I barely speak the language, having only a vague notion of how to get to my destination, and finding ways to make it all work.

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I am the 2%. I do what most of the world rejects as crazy or stupid. I travel to strange locations to attend even stranger events. I push harder than most think prudent toward goals that many find illogical. And I am 100% happy doing it.

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