When I first started dating my athletic adventuring partner Benson, we went winter camping with a group of people in Joshua Tree National Park. At night, I put hot water bottles in my sleeping bag to keep from trembling violently while laying on a thin mat that separated me from the cold ground. In the morning, there was snow and our water containers were all frozen, so we had to melt water for coffee. During the day, it was sunshine and cacti and climbing, but then night came again and it was my own personal version of hell.
After the trip, I looked to Benson for validation, asking him how I did on my first winter camping outing. That was my first mistake. It shouldn’t have mattered to me what he thought about it. But, I did. And he gave me a C+
C+! The grade stung and my fury erupted. C+! The horror!
I thought I was great: I met lots of new people I didn’t know, I climbed, I was nice to Benson, I was a pal to all the dogs, I went with the flow. OK, there was that night I cried myself to sleep while trembling and freezing… but it was in private!
That C+ turned into a huge deal, I argued with him about it so he would change my grade. What I should have done is said, “Wow. That’s pretty good. For the first time doing something, I did ok. I kind of sucked, but the first time you do anything difficult, it sucks.”
I should have said to myself: “Hey. You had a C+ day. That’s totally OK.” I mean, that freaking rhymes! I could have written a great song about it!
But, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to have C+ days. You resist them. You are afraid of them. You think that a C+ is actually an F. One of my life coaching clients made a gorgeous gourmet dinner for her family and her husband came home late and the meal got cold and she got cranky. She gave herself an F. She said she failed at family time. It made her feel incredibly sad. I get it. I’ve given myself plenty of unwarranted F’s too.
Do you give yourself an F when you deserve a C+?
Or, are you so afraid of a C+ that you end up not trying at all? Do you guarantee an F because you are afraid of a C+?
You might be wondering if I ever went winter camping again. Are you KIDDING ME? That activity is MISERABLE. I am a smart person and know how to avoid disaster.
But, I will share with you my current report card:
Car Camping: A
Flat Ground Running: B
Trail Running: C+
Stand Up Paddleboarding: C-
And you know how I feel about that? So happy. Look at all those fun things I’m trying. My grades have nowhere to go but up. And guess what? I like them because I gave them to myself.