His observations touched on something I’ve been thinking about in the context of my triathlon training, accomplishments, and challenges. When I eventually post the recap of my NYC Triathlon experience from this weekend, you’ll see that I had a very good time (both literally and emotionally) despite some challenges, one was entirely diabetes-related, the other not at all.
No one in the race knew about my diabetes, and if anyone in the crowd (other than my loving wife) knew that I was wearing my TeamWILD kit to represent for my peeps with diabetes, they didn’t acknowledge it. To the casual observer and my fellow triathletes, I was just another athlete trying to perform as well as my talents and training and the day would let me. To me, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
So, while I loved seeing all of the people who responded to my Facebook updates and photos from the event, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the few of them that mentioned my diabetes. Certainly, it shouldn’t take away from the congratulations at the core of the compliment, and yet there diabetes was. Scott’s post caused me to think about this some more and to write this comment:
I’m not as awesome athletically as the folks you mentioned—and that has nothing to do with diabetes—but I get the “Look at what you’re accomplishing despite/with/because of diabetes!” compliment all the time. I recognize that diabetes is a factor (and the one that’s least in my control right now) but it’s not the biggest part of either my results or my motivation. That would be the part that comes by putting in day after day of hard work, even when I don’t want to and when diabetes presents a challenge. (The pros and the elites feel the same way, too, of course.)
Sure, I think about diabetes sometimes when I’m training and racing, partly to make sure I’m doing the right thing to achieve my best performance, but often it’s with the mental image of beating this disease like a piñata when I need a little bit of extra motivation.
Perhaps people are reacting to the fact that I am out there day after day doing what I need to do to compete. People (including myself) can find so many reasons for not doing so many of the things that we know we should. I think it’s natural for people with and without diabetes to want to acknowledge our accomplishments as worthy of a little extra attention because we didn’t give in to whatever impediments or excuses might come our way.
So, as much as I dislike hearing this despite/because business as part of a compliment and wish that people would just focus on the accomplishment, I think I finally get where people are coming from. (Thanks for prompting me to think about this more!)
Dear readers, what do you think about the “with/despite/because of diabetes” comments?
. . . And, for what it’s worth, you can say anything you want when you give me praise or criticism. I won’t be offended or complain or wish you hadn’t. :^)