What are these little things we see everywhere?
They create a sense of accomplishment,
A sense of self
A sense of self worth.
Our clothing size
They define our home
How many rooms
What grade point average
How many followers we have
How many likes we get.
But why do we give numbers so much worth in our lives?
Because we learn to from the moment we are born. As a mother, I can remember the first questions I would be asked about my pregnancies. What is your due date? How far along? How many weeks? How long until you know the gender? How many are there? How many will you have? All of these questions require a value, a number.
Then, once you have your child, the first things people want to know about a baby are their height and weight. (Numbers)
Then time and date (numbers)
Then weeks/months/years (numbers)
How many words? (Numbers)
We are measured by numbers from the very beginning. We learn that these numbers hold value. They define who we are. People see us as the skinny or fat baby, the tall or short child, the rich or poor person based on numbers.
We try so hard to change these numbers. To make them different. To make them better. Being better or best means having the highest or the lowest number (depending on what you are talking about). Being better or the best means comparing yourself to others. We should always caution ourselves from being too quick to compare ourselves to others. When we do that to our children we can create a world of hurt.
As a mom, I often find myself saying that the first or the second or the third child did x, y, or z at such and such an age. Then, I find myself saying this to another parent when we compare our children. It is like a three ring circus of “well, my child was walking at 10 months old. How about yours?” And “Oh! Well, my child could read at the age of 2.” Followed quickly by an occasional, “Well, my child was playing Mozart at three.” And so on. It really makes me sad to think I have done that about and to my children. I Am trying not to do that anymore. I try to use names and their character to describe them, but sometimes that is hard in a society of numbers.
Motherhood and life are filled with so many numbers. At one point in my own life running seemed like a good idea. How hard could it be, right? So, I signed up for a 5K. I never practiced, never warmed up, and just showed up to run. I came in last place. It took me 47 minutes to run that 5K and it was the most grueling 47 minutes of my life.
Why? Because I let that get to me. I let those numbers give me value. I have learned that those numbers only hold value in that they pushed me to run faster and farther, and to understand that it takes practice to improve my running numbers.
As parents we wanted to choose a sport for our boys that would help them find their values: hard work, dedication, teamwork, good sportsmanship, etc.. The sport we chose for them is all about the numbers : track and field.
Talk about numbers, this sport is about how fast, what place, and how far. We chose it because the one thing I did learn from that race was that I could better myself from that time. Track & Field is a sport that doesn’t compare you to someone else. Well, it doesn’t if you do it right. As coaches and parents we are constantly telling our runners to do THEIR best. Not to worry about the other runner’s best, but to focus on what they can do to beat themselves. We push them in practice to stretch, run, jump and throw better every time. This dedication has lead to personal bests for many of our runners, and even a showing at the Junior Olympics.
The numbers here show our runners that they have grown. That their hard work is paying off. That dedication and focus will lead to great rewards. This lesson is not just for running or jumping or throwing, but it will play out in life.
If they focus on the task at hand, do what they have learned to do and dedicate themselves to it, they will find that they are capable of growing at any task.
Numbers. They mean so much, but also, so little.
A number can never compare to the worth a person feels inside. The sense of accomplishment and wonder someone feels as they rise above a challenge and grow from it. No number can ever replace that feeling.
So I challenge you. Move forward with fewer numbers. Credit yourself for what you can do, and find your non-number worth. What makes you fully you? How do you find your non-number worth? For me, it is how happy my children are, what they believe they can do, the joy in my marriage, and what I know I am capable of. Numbers do not need to define any of that!
Leave a comment and help others find ways to find their worth as well!