R-E-S-P-E-C-T… why won’t you give it to me?

I have been feeling off this week.

I had an argument with a friend on Sunday that made me realize that it is very hard for some people in my life to support me in regards to my love of fitness and dedication to bettering myself.  This is not something that I understand nor is it something with which I agree.  I am a firm believer that you should want your friends to be happy and you should support hem as they better themselves.  So why is it that some of mine have been less than supportive at times?

Change scares people.

I have always been a social person.  I love hanging out with my friends/family and trying new things with them.  Meeting new people is something that I enjoy tremendously.  A very large part of being social in my past included drinking.

Wanna hang out? Sure – let’s go grab a drink.

Want to go grab dinner?  Yep, then let’s go to the bars.

I never realized how much drinking had been integrated into my friendships.  Most of my closest friends are ones that I met in college.  Drinking was part of the culture there so it makes sense that it is such a large part of our relationship.

However, it isn’t as much a part of my life anymore.  Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy going out with my friends and I still drink often in social settings.  I just don’t think that it always needs to be the focus of hanging out.  I try to avoid drinking completely a week or two before my races.  If I can’t do that, then I put my foot down 100% on at least the last few nights leading up to them.

I have found that some of my friends give me a really hard time about this.  If I don’t drink much and hang out with them, I get teased for not drinking enough and pressured into drinking more.  If I don’t hang out with them to avoid this pressure, I get chastised for not doing things with them.  I feel like I cannot win.  With some of my friends, I have started to feel like I can’t have both – I can’t work on myself AND be their friend.  This realization that I am not going to be able to sustain all of my relationships as I continue to make changes in my life hit me like a hard table being slammed onto my bad knee on Sunday night.

And it hurts.

I have tried to integrate these friends into my fitness life in an effort to spend time with them and/or give them the opportunity to understand this part of my life.  I ask them to go on runs with me, go to CrossFit class with me and even ask them to go to my races to support me.  I almost always get the same responses.  They are typically as follows:

  1. I hate running
  2. CrossFit is stupid/dangerous
  3. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with you if we ran together
  4. I don’t have time to go to your race

All of these are acceptable points to me.  Not everyone is going to love what I love or do what I do.  My intent with inviting them is simply to extend a bridge to a better understanding of me.  I do not invite anyone to go with me because I need them to change to be more like me.  Our differences are what enable us to help each other grow.  I don’t need my friends to accept my invitations to engage in the physical activities with me nor does it upset me when they do not.  Sometimes, the way that they blow off my invitations to cheer at my races upsets me but I get that not everybody wants to stand outside for two hours to watch me run by once or twice.  However, because it has been such a big source of contempt between us, it is important to me that I at least make that effort and offer it to them.

So here is what I usually say to these responses:

  1. I hate running – Okay, but I love it.  It’s important to me.  So you hating it doesn’t mean that I should or have to. 
  2. CrossFit is stupid/dangerous – Have you ever tried it?  Did you have a good coach?  I love it.  It makes me happy.  What makes you happy?
  3. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with you if we ran together – Hey, I’m happy to run at your pace. I understand that I have been consistently running for a while now.  Logistically, it makes sense that my pace may be faster than yours.  I’m happy to go on a run with you simply to be running with you, it doesn’t have to be a training/competitive run for me.  Also, you may surprise yourself.
  4. I don’t have time to go to your race – (Ouch) – Okay, yeah, we are all pretty busy. 

I really want to focus on #3 as this is the one that seemed to get me into big trouble on Sunday night with my friend.  Somehow, my friend perceived my typical response (which was pretty much delivered verbatim as listed above) as me saying “you suck, I’m great. You need to run. You should be ashamed of your body and try to get on my level.”

I won’t get into the details of the situation because they are irrelevant.  However, it feels important for me to talk about this because it is a recurring issue for me these days.  I open the door to this important part of my life to my friends and some take it as me insulting them or immediately slam it back in my face.

This particular friend of mine has been running and talking about how fitness is important to her too.  She’s been really working hard and seeing some pretty awesome results – I’m really proud of her for doing what she feels is important to her.  However, she isn’t supportive of my running nor does she respect the fact that it is important to me.  She often uses me as the butt of her jokes to other friends and scoffs at my dedication to my longer runs on weekends.  She later explained to me that she doesn’t enjoy running because she is doing it only to lose weight and it’s a task to her.

I didn’t ask her to run with me because I think she needs to “get on my level” or change herself.  I asked her to do it with me because I enjoy it and I want to enjoy it with her if possible.  I think it would be cool for her to see why I’ve come to enjoy running and how happy it makes me.  It was not at all my intention to force it upon her nor do I think I presented it that way.

There was a time in my life when I hated running and also only did it to lose weight.  This is why part of me does understand why she reacted the way that she did to me.  I also recall a time when my older sister was completely dedicated to fitness and eating well – she was absolutely killing it and she had already seemed like a very fit person to me.  It frustrated me when she asked me to run with her because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her.  I remember giving her very similar reactions even though that’s not at all what she meant – something I didn’t understand until recently.

I don’t need my friends to actually go out and run with me to be supportive either.  I have offered it to friends that have said no and I still think they’re supportive.  Again, I don’t need everyone to love running with me in order to me to consider them a supportive friend.  What frustrates me is the lack of respect/support when I say that I don’t want to drink or even stay up late the night before a race.  This particular friend told me to my face that not drinking made me boring – like I wasn’t worthy of being with the group unless I engaged in this ritual of drinking that somehow determined my worth or value to them.

A friend of mine recently got her CPA – whoop whoop!  She had to take several tests to reach this achievement and dedicated a lot of time to studying for her exams.  She often went out with us and didn’t drink so that she could wake up early and study the next day.  At times, she did not go out at all – the night before an exam or when she needed to study late at night.  I don’t think she was really ever given a hard time about this.  I remember some light teasing (my friends are pretty sarcastic) but nothing to the degree to which I have been roasted by the above mentioned friend in particular.

So why is my running/races different for my friends?  Why is it okay for her to opt into obtaining her CPA and cut back on drinking but it isn’t okay for me to opt into running races and cut back on drinking?  Why is what is important to her important to them and what is important to me isn’t?  I rarely even get a congratulatory text or high five after one of my big races – certainly never from this particular friend.

And this leads me to my brief touch point on #4 of the list.  Think about things that your friends do that are important to them and how you respond to those events.  Your friend trains for a kickboxing match, would you go to it?  Another friend works really hard on planning an event and invites you, would you attend?  Maybe your friend even earns a big designation in their field, do you celebrate it with them afterward?

I get frustrated that some of my friends typically show no interest in attending my races or even calling/texting me afterward to see how it went because I know that I do that for them with things that are important to them.  I also see them do that for other friends when they accomplish something.  I have come to understand that running just does not translate as an accomplishment for them.  And, quite frankly, it is a bummer that it being an accomplishment for me isn’t enough.

Again, I want to drive home the point that I am not talking about ALL of my friends here.  I am talking about the select few that go out of their way to belittle something that is so important to me.

I wish there was some sort of solution – some aha! moment that would come at the end of this blog where I’d say “here, reader, this is what you should do in these situations.”  But, I don’t have one and that’s why this situation has been so bothersome and consuming for me.  People change.  Some people will adapt and grow with you and others won’t.  At the end of the day, remember to stand your ground and don’t sacrifice what is important to you to appease people that aren’t respecting you.

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