What Competition Taught Me About Living

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I had one of those profound moments that moved me to tears yesterday. I mentioned that my daughter had swim states this weekend. It is a tradition here that the first race always leads off with the special olympics. Right before it was time to begin, a woman asked the people in front of us if she could just sit there for a moment because her daughter was in the first race. The music started playing and the kids started to parade out. The boy leading the group was so excited he was jumping up and down. Everyone in the crowd had a smile on their face. The pride and the excitement these kids emitted was energizing for everyone in the room. As the race started, the woman in front of us started cheering for her daughter. The crowd went crazy encouraging them all to finish the race. I watched the excitement and pride on this woman’s face as she watched her own daughter get that first place medal. The tears started to well up in my eyes. Sometimes we forget to count our blessings. Sometimes as parents, we put expectations on our kids that rob us of the joy and pride we should be feeling in a given moment. I realized right then and there that no matter what the result, I would be grateful for the blessings that swimming has brought into Kayleigh’s life. Did I want her to win? You bet I did. But the fact that she was there putting every ounce of effort into the one day she has worked toward all year was enough reason to celebrate. I promised myself I would have no expectations and to just enjoy this moment in time. 

My heart began to race as I watched her march out. I watched the smile and the bounce in her step as she made her way behind the blocks. My body was dripping with sweat and I reminded myself, whatever happened was okay. She was seeded 5th but the most important thing of all was breaking one minute. That was her goal and I wanted her to be able to achieve it. She dove in and was neck and neck with the girls on each side of her. Both girls had beat her in the past and I was tickled pink that she was keeping up. As she approached the third wall, something amazing happened. It was like she received an electric charge that helped her surge forward and separate herself from the rest of the pack. She ended up finishing third. which didn’t seem possible a few minutes earlier. The best part though? She finally broke that minute and ended with a time of 59.76. She did it! Third in the state and achieved her own personal goal. For a moment my mind flashed back to the look on that woman’s face. For that single moment in time, our faces were the same. My smile came from the inside out and my heart was fuller than its been in quite a long time. My emotions were spilling over as I watched them put that medal around my own child’s neck. It was an amazing day.

The lesson here is simple. Celebrate what is. Stop cheating yourself out of happiness because you get caught up in expectations and comparison. Swim your own race and forget about everyone else in the rest of the pool. Celebrate who you are and what you accomplish like you are the only person in your own little world. That is what winning is really about. Just like my earlier post, the only thing you should try and beat is yesterday so get moving!

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