How to celebrate your mini victories

“Ms. McCartney? You’re ready.”

I stared at the man in the clipboard and blinked. I passed? Holy shit, I passed!

I almost threw my Mac on the floor and threw my arms in the air, “I PASSED!?!?! I never pass!!”

Everyone in the room turned and stared. Apparently, no one else gets that excited about passing a vehicle state inspection.

Around this time last year, I was sitting in this exact same spot, typing on this same Mac, getting ready to swipe my credit card on fourteen hundred dollars worth of repairs. Yet when the same guy, with the same clipboard, spoke to me, this is how the conversation went:

“Ms. McCartney?”

I stared at him, knowing full well my car had (miserably) failed inspection. “I’m done already??” I asked.

“No. Your car just got hit in the parking lot. We already ran the estimate, so do you want us to fix that now or…?”

To me, passing inspection was like winning the freaking lottery.

On my drive from DC to Pittsburgh this weekend, I called my friend Lexi to pass the time. Lexi has been one of my best friends since high school—we ran on the same team and continued to run in college. We talked about running, how we fell out of love with running, and how we fell back in love with it. We talked about our burnouts and our less-than-amiable races in the past few years.

“Kara, after the half marathon I ran last fall, I decided I’m not running another race until I’m ready for it. Meaning…I’m not running another race until I can run a time I can post on Facebook without being embarrassed.”

Oh honey, I feel that. I am an open book when it comes to most things, but small victories in post-college races has not been one of them.

mini victoriesThis week I posted a photo on Instagram of me sitting cross-legged on my bed. In the caption I wrote, “This may be the dumbest victory ever, but look what I can do!” I have never been a flexible person, and running only makes it worse. In efforts to improve my flexibility (and to make my squat form slightly less embarrassing) I’ve incorporated one or two yoga sessions into my weekly routine. Being able to sit cross-legged without pain is the first noticeable sign I’ve seen of progress.

*Self high five.

I’ve never been to my friend Keena’s apartment when she didn’t have fresh-cut flowers on her dining room table. I knew her for a good six months before I finally asked about it.

“Do you just buy them for yourself?” I felt guilty splurging on a chai tea latte at the coffee shop.

“F yea—every week. I pick them up on Friday after work, just to say, ‘Way to go Keena. Way to get through the week.’”

How awesome is that?

Last night, I stayed up talking with my grandfather. A Princeton undergrad, Harvard Law School graduate, and former partner of one of the largest law firms in Pittsburgh; my grandfather is one of the most successful people I know. He asked me where I thought I would be in ten years, and I told him I had no idea.

“I took a lot of pleasure in small victories. The most enjoyable part of business law was helping a friend or neighbor start a business—much more satisfying than any lawsuit.” My grandfather worked eighty-hour weeks for forty years straight. He became a pilot, launched companies across multiple industries, and taught himself more languages than I could ever dream of speaking. At eighty-two years old, he considers his largest accomplishments to be the small ones.

When I first moved to DC after college, I never grew tired of small victories. I cannot explain to you how pumped I was when I figured out how to use the Metro. I celebrated every new friend I made, every new bar/restaurant I discovered, and every run I completed without getting lost. Somewhere between then and now, I started thinking those victories had to be much bigger in order to earn a celebration.

You can’t train for a half marathon if you don’t complete your first three-mile run, and you can’t do the splits if you can’t sit cross-legged on the floor. No matter how small (or stupid) your mini victory may seem, it’s a victory just the same.

Even if that victory is passing your state inspection with flying-fucking-colors.

Cheers to that.

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For All the F Words
You have flaws. You f-up on a daily basis. And that should be ok.