Holding Candles to Supreme

>>  Saturday, February 16, 2019

An interesting item became a topic of discussion in Guiding forums recently.

Jasmin Paris had a fantastic achievement in Skyrunning this month. She set a new race record for the 2019 Spine Race on the Pennine Way, finishing 268 miles in 83 hours. She is the first woman to win the event overall and smashing the previous records.  This would be incredible for a solely dedicated athletic but Jasmin also works full time AND is a mum to a 1 year old baby AND is still breast feeding.   This is to me is super human.  Go Girl.

So my thoughts here are not to underplay anything she has achieved.  No doubt with a lot of grit, determination and sheer effort of hard training.  And she appears to have a very healthy mental outlook on it all too in terms of her own life.

What bothered me were comments from Guiders that here was someone to show the girls, here was a women truly achieving, she was amazing enough to be Guiding's Bear Grylls.  (Guiding does not really have an equivalent to Scouting's  'Bear Grylls'.) 

Looking to use exceptional achievers as role models worries me. This is a quote from the Guardian 

"Indeed Paris is uneasy when she is told that her achievements are exceptional. “Part of me thinks that if other people tried it they could do it too,” she insists. “All you need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and feed yourself. We can do much more than we think, if we actually give it a go.” Something Paris, of course, knows better than anyone."

So are we happy saying to our girls when you are older and working full time, and running a household, and you've got a baby, and you are breastfeeding all you need to do is put one foot in front of the other and you can go 268 miles in 3.5 days if only you are prepared to try.

We all know that her performance is exceptional and it does no one any mental favours pretending it isn't.

In a society that idolises people that stand out genetically, and the way our girls are already trying to match that in looks, I would hate to think that any one of them would feel guilty if they work full time, breastfeed a one year old and are so knackered they struggle to do the housework on a weekend let alone run to the end of the street.  

Celebrate achievements, be inspired but don't hold a candle to the exceptional and think that is either the way we should be or attainable for all.

We can't all run a marathon let alone an ultra.  (Ultra's are the new black, I guess because so many run marathons now!)  

But we can all achieve.  I think we've forgotten what achieving looks like.

If you work and run a household with some level of success you have achieved already in my book! 

If you get your kids to school on time with some food inside them (almost) every day you are achieving.  If you never, ever in their entire school life drop them off at the gates by car in your PJs (done that...twice) you are a super parent! 

Our girls (or boys) don't need to be holding candles to exceptional.  They need to recognise exceptional for what it is.  If that inspires that is marvellous just as long as they understand that they are most likely already achieving and they don't have to run 268 miles or have an arse like Beyonce to be pretty bloody marvellous themselves.

I wish British winners, achievers, all round fantastic people would stop being so damned British with their "Part of me thinks that if other people tried it they could do it too"  and try a response like "I worked really hard to do this and yes, I've done really well" and we could all play our part by saying to the 'normal' people "well done, that's something to be proud of" more often.

Things I think deserve this response:

1) wearing clean underwear daily (passing the sock sniff does not count as clean)
2) Any run I do ever, regardless of length, speed or how much I moan before, during or afterwards.
3) Any parent with a young child that is completely dressed (child and/or parent), extra kudos for any level of colour co-ordination and being on time for anything at all.
4) Doing a full supermarket shop and not buying anything that you already had in your cupboard
5) Doing a full supermarket shop and not not buying anything on the list that you left at home (yes that is a double not)
6) Not eating chocolate for 83 hours 12 minutes and 23 seconds


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