Mile 583.25: On Owning Your Achievements


“Up in the air,
Chasing a dream so real.”
–30 Seconds to Mars, “Up in the Air”

Miles Since Last Time: 133.75
Total Miles: 583.25

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been putting in extra miles every day. I’m going out of town this week to present a paper at a film conference (more on that another day), and I didn’t want to fall behind.

When I left the gym yesterday, a man stopped me as I passed.

I’ve seen him before. He has a pretty distinctive salt-and-pepper beard and he always brings his own towel (whereas I usually just wipe my face on my shirt sleeve–because I’m classy like that). Yesterday, he was next to me on the elliptical for a little while. He stopped me on my way out to ask a few questions about my workout, and I did the weirdest thing: I lied.

Here’s pretty much how the conversation went. For the sake of simplicity, what I said is in italics, and the truth is in bold.

Towel Guy:
How many calories did you burn?

Oh, um, uh…a lot. Just shy of 1,600.

Towel Guy: (raising his eyebrows)
How long were you on there?

I, uh, um, I did… Two hours and ten minutes.
I did about eight miles. It was actually about ten–which was the whole point of the two hours and ten minutes. Like I said, I want to stay on track.

Towel Guy then made a bit of a whoa face and walked around me while I went on my merry way.

I don’t really know what came over me when he asked me those questions. In the moment, though, telling the truth seemed like bragging. I don’t know anything about him or his workout routine, but for some reason, I was worried about making him feel bad or something.

By the time I got in my car, I’d decided that I was a bad feminist. How dare I downplay what I was doing just because I was concerned about some random dude thinking I was a show-off!

Then I realized that this was not the first time I’ve done something like that.

A few months ago, a woman on one of the treadmills asked me how long I’d been on the elliptical. I told her I did seven miles every day. What I didn’t say was that I did eight that day because I always do a little extra on the weekends.

I guess that means I’m not a completely terrible feminist, right? Since I worry about the feelings of men and women alike?

When someone puts you on the spot, you tend to revert to your default settings and say the first thing that pops into your head. My setting, apparently, is to refrain from seeming braggy. Well, here’s my advice to myself and anyone else who has a similar default:

It’s not bragging if it’s true. Lying about your achievements doesn’t help anyone, especially you. Generally, if someone stops you to ask a question, he or she is genuinely curious about your answer (small talk not included). How other people feel about facts is their problem. Own your accomplishments. Just don’t be a douchebag about it.

2 responses »

  1. Well I’m glad you put in that last paragraph because that keeps me from having to type it out. However, I also think part of it has to do with having a hard time feeling proud of your accomplishments. It’s one thing to be humble, but you still need to acknowledge all the work/time/effort/will power you’ve put in and you should be proud of it!! Now go to cafe, order a shirt that says “I kick ass”, put it on and track down salt-and-pepper beard and tell him how awesome you are. Or at least imagine yourself doing it and vow to pat yourself on the back more often. You deserve it!

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