What’s the worst that could happen?

I’ve decided to try something new on the blog today: I’m joining Amanda’s linkup for Thinking Out Loud. I’ve been thinking silently for too long; time to set those thoughts free!


In my recap of the last few weeks’ training, I was pretty frank with my emotions about how training has been going, and I really appreciated your encouraging comments.

My feelings then shifted to guilt. Why should anyone feel sorry for me? I’m training for a marathon, albeit not without challenges, IN PARIS. That’s such a privilege and I’m grateful for it.

So today, I’m thinking out loud about plans and perspective.

Happiness is the difference between expectations and reality (or is it?)

A friend who went to the University of Georgia said this to me to explain why UGA football fans are disappointed with (and fire their coach after) a 10-win season. It made some sense to me. (But I wouldn’t consider it a truth to live by. We would aim low in everything, right?)

I don’t think anyone signs up for endurance events expecting to get injured. Sure, we know there is a risk of injury, but we probably all think we have the super special formula to stay injury free. We expect to be able to go out, train consistently, and perform our best. Expectations.

I have no idea how I made it through my first marathon training cycle without an injury. Luck is the best guess I can venture. I didn’t know any injury prevention secrets I don’t know now. Dumb luck happens, and all we can do is enjoy it.

In reflecting on this, or any other situation that comes with plans or expectations, I don’t think we should feel guilty if we’re upset that reality doesn’t live up to those expectations. Yes, there are horrible diseases and wars in the world. No, that doesn’t invalidate anyone’s disappointment with having a running injury. But keeping it all in perspective is good practice.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Another friend posed this question to me in my mid-20s when I was freaking out about contemplating some challenge at work.

No, really, what is the very worst thing that could happen? Would you lose your job? No?

I’m a perfectionist, so this perspective shook me up. But, it wouldn’t be the way I want it! I might not get an excellent performance review!

My friend sat with me and forced me to come up with the very worst-case scenario, then proceeded to help me see how my hugely-stressful-thing really wasn’t worth the anxiety and stress I was giving it. There’s a big difference between taking pride in your work and letting the pursuit of perfection (or aversion to risk) rule your life. I was in the latter category for a long time.

Now whenever I feel myself getting stressed/frustrated/anxious/fearful, I ask myself what’s the worst thing that could happen. And as far as I can tell with Paris, the VERY WORST thing that could happen is I go to a beautiful city with a bum knee and cheer on my friend who’s running a marathon. I’m pretty sure I can cope with that situation.

I’m still spending a lot of time doing everything I can to keep myself on the marathon training wagon, because an even awesome-er scenario of running a marathon in Paris with a friend is still a real possibility.

St. Jude marathon finish

The moment right after I finished my first marathon. I want that feeling again.

(I wanted to end this post with a 90s-rapper-style shout out to my fellow perfectionists, but I am way too old and CPAish to get the tone right…it sounded sooooo dorky.)

Anyway, let me know in the comments if you’re someone who struggles with the lofty expectations of perfectionism. Do you have any tips to keep things in perspective?


11 thoughts on “What’s the worst that could happen?

  1. I’d be crazy upset if I got to Paris and could only stand by and cheer other people! It would suck! It doesn’t make you a jerk to say so! And I never assume people don’t have perspective or are shallow etc when they talk “runner’s problems.” I complain about run issues too but I’m not ungrateful or lacking perspective when I blog about it. I just choose not to caveat every run post with “***but at least I don’t have cancer and my kids don’t have cancer and we’re so lucky we get to go to Disney races but we also work damn hard to go and sacrifice a lot for these weekends and and and and….”

    Imo, there is something great about working hard to reach lofty goals. Otherwise we’re staying stagnant! And we just want to win the race against ourselves! Embrace the annoying training hardships/victories/mistakes and talk about them without worry of reproach! Embrace the pity party! Embrace the “screw that, I’m not going out like this!” post-pity party phase! And embrace the “omg that race was bananas!” at the end of each training cycle! That’s my advice! 🙂 How else are we going to get those BQ’s if we don’t have a little perfectionist going on?!


    • Haha, great advice! I love the way you write about training and racing and life! And when I read other people having running pity parties, I never begrudge them anything…I’m right there with them! I don’t know why I felt guilty for being honest, it’s totally silly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m happy to have found another Atlanta blogger! I live in the actual city too! I strive for perfection but am getting better at taking my foot off the gas when I need to. It’s a tough balance, but if you don’t give yourself a break it’s even worse. Keep your chin up!


  3. Great post on perspective and I can certainly relate. For a long while everything I did related to running, cycling or work had to be perfected. If I didn’t execute my training plan surely I would fail during the race. If my projects don’t follow every defined process step on time, they too will fail. With experience (and age!) I came to realize, I’ve never failed at a race and I’ve never failed an assigned task or project at the office. Perfection…maybe not every time, but success resulting in content/satisfaction/happiness..yeah absolutely! Happy Friday!!

    Liked by 1 person

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