Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Autism Answer: Running A Race

My nieces: Running a race!

When we're running a race one of our goals, almost always, is to win. 

When we want to win a race we can use our energy and time learning to improve our own speed. Or we can focus more on learning how to slow down the speed of our competitors. I suppose, if the most important goal is "win the race" then either choice, or a combination of both, is perfectly valid. 

My main goal has rarely been to "win the race" but rather to "enjoy the race and improve my time" planning, of course, to win the race. Because of this I have a tendency to learn from my fellow race runners while I cheer them on. I love that they know and are continuing to discover more and more ways to win the race! I love, too, that when I win the race I can share things I've learned with them! 

In life, I often win the race. But mostly because I feel like a winner when I improve on my time, try my best, have fun, and feel a sense of kinship with my fellow race-runners. When I can do all of this, all at once, I feel like a winner indeed!

However there are many who would see my life as a race not won. My bank account is often empty (or emptier than empty!) and my book sells slowly and my days are often spent not working hard but, rather, reading delightful books. 

I don't think people who see my life as a race not won are entirely wrong to see it that way. I've learned that there are plenty of people who would be terrifically unhappy in my life. So, to them, they're right. I would only ask folks to remember that my life is a race won well for me. That my happiness and self-love are largely due to my ability to run my life race well and to win, the way I see it, so often! 

They, of course, should not try to win my race but rather their own. And I am more than happy to watch and help them win their life race! Even while I sit on the sidelines sipping coffee.

For most of my life I assumed that everyone had similar race winning goals as me. To "enjoy the race and improve our time" while also hoping and planning and succeeding in winning some races. This, if you ask me, has made it easier for me to willingly run races that I am nearly incapable of winning - where I am handicapped in some way - because the goal is to try winning while enjoying the race and improving my time.

Yet, when I look outside of my own circle of family and friends I'm beginning to see that, perhaps, "win the race" is a more common first and foremost goal than I had believed. 


I can't quite put myself comfortably in that mindset. "Win the race" is one of my goals and a great way to check in on my personal progress, but my bigger focus remains "enjoy the race and improve my time". What I find freeing is the knowledge that because I can't comfortably imagine wanting most to "win the race" I can't possibly judge it. I have no idea what that's like.

Regardless though of whether we focus most on winning the race or enjoying the race or judging the race or signing other folks up for the race, I think it's important to be clear and comfortable about what winning the race looks like to us.

Being the first to cross a finish line is certainly a recognized and valuable type of winning. 

But, for me, running a race is about so much more than only winning it.

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

RANDOM ADDITION: The other day my husband, Declyn, and I were racing on our bikes. Another thing I learned about racing: I get winded really fast!!!