The way we were

This post is mostly not about teaching – at least not how I imagine it going in my head at the moment. It could certainly apply to teaching, though. This is a post about how easy it is to embellish your past to make yourself look better or even to beat your current self up over something – all without realizing that you are doing it. Observe:

A few years ago, I decided to start running. I have several friends who run, it’s cheap (good shoes are a must, but otherwise that shit is free), and the timing is flexible. It is also a good way to get outside. Being way out of shape and having had trouble with shin pain in the past, I started with the Couch to 5k program and after a couple years and several attempts, I finally (finally!) got into a routine last summer. I lost about 30 pounds (200lbs down to 170lbs) by watching what I ate and running every other day. It was pretty rad.

Then the school year started. By the first week in September, my sleep routine was totally nonexistent, and the idea of waking up at 5:00am to run after falling asleep at midnight for the fifth day in a row seemed impossible. I stopped running. Fast forward to this May, and I’d gained back 20 of the 30 pounds I lost, plus I felt like a lazy sack of fail.

After making excuse after excuse as to why I wasn’t exercising, I decided to retry a 5k training program using RunKeeper, the program I’d used to track my runs last summer (which I highly recommend for cost [free!], features, and ease-of-use). Today was my third run in 5 days and so far it feels pretty good.

Here is where the “hindsight is through rose-colored beer goggles” comes in. I was feeling bad about exercise all year, in particular this spring because I kept thinking, “I started exercising in February last year and it took me until September to lose 30 pounds and I’ll never stick with it blah, blah, blah – why even bother.” (Yes, I often think in run-on sentences.) So, today I was editing my run on RunKeeper when I thought, “Hey – I wonder how this compares to my distance last year around this time…” I figured if I was going to beat myself up over not being as active as last year, I might as well have the data to back myself up.

Turns out, I didn’t start running in February. Well, I did. I ran for about a week and then I stopped. Then I ran once in March. I didn’t even bother in April or June. I didn’t start running regularly until July, at which point I ran pretty much every other day for two months straight before the school year got to me in September.

I’d been beating myself over not being as good as my past self, when it turns out that my past self was no better than my current self. In fact! If I keep up with this running thing through June and into July and August, that’s a whole month more than last year. Maybe I’ll even continue through September and on through the year, maybe I won’t, but I’m already on schedule to outdo myself. Yet, here I was agonizing over being a slacker.

I suppose what I’m saying (rather verbosely, as always), is that hindsight is not always 20/20. Sometimes the way we were was not as good as we remember, and I think using foggy memories against oneself is kind of sad. Just something to think about in the event that you were putting off doing something good for yourself because you tried it once and it didn’t work. Maybe this time you’ll do better, maybe not, but doing something is better than agonizing over doing nothing.