This past weekend I ran my first ever Half Marathon – a full 13.1 miles! It was something I had been training for several months, and a significant milestone in my preparation to run a full Marathon. Nearing the end of the race I was carefully eying those around me as my real competitors.
With about a mile left to go I saw two women off to the side of the racing course tying their shoes. I thought about how I must be advancing in the overall rankings as these other people were obviously falling by the wayside in the final stretch. I was feeling good!
Yet about a quarter mile further I saw these same women jogging past me, but not within the bounds of the race course. They were cutting corners! “How unfair!” I thought. The injustice of these people passing me and getting a better time in the race by cheating got me upset. “Hopefully one of the race officials is watching”, I said to myself.
However as I thought about the situation and looked again at these women jogging by me about 10 yards away I realized that they didn’t have a race number on.
No numbers on their chests, and no tags on their shoes…
I then realized that they were not even in the race. Rather, they were just two people out for a Sunday morning jog!
I wonder how many times we do this sort of thing in other areas of life. How often are we comparing ourselves in unhelpful ways? How often do we compare ourselves to others who aren’t even in the race that we are in? Frequently those around us are living with completely different sets of values and goals from our own, but yet when we look over and see them “getting ahead” in some way we get frustrated.
This is one of the great dangers of comparing ourselves to others. We usually do so with such a limited perspective of the bigger picture that our comparisons are fundamentally flawed.