On Your Mark

As a young girl, my family and I undertook countless road trips.

These road trips spanned 3-10 hours long across my beautiful homeland, Nigeria, depending on which city we decided to visit. On those road trips, my father recounted fables which I always enjoyed and looked forward to. I never told anyone this, but I believe that those trips were the seed to my love for story-telling and my ability to extract some sort of morale from every situation. So in case you haven’t noticed, I basically treat life as one big story, extracting morale lessons wherever I can. It also helped that my imagination was quite unbridled at such a tender age and at the time, my favorite story was always that of the Tortoise and the Hare.

Most are familiar with the story of the Tortoise and the Hare:

A proud Hare brags how fast he can run, and tired of hearing him boast, Tortoise challenges him to a race. The whole animal jungle is invited to watch. Hare zooms off, stops, looks back at Tortoise and mockingly questions Tortoise’s ability to actually surpass Hare and win. Hare decides to take a break thinking he has ample time to catch up on his beauty sleep. Tortoise keeps moving without stopping, Hare oversleeps, Tortoise eventually wins.

The morale we’re taught is that slow and steady wins the race.

That’s a great morale and it certainly is true! But…

The biggest misconception that most people (even I) have about this story is taking the two animals in our fable to represent ourselves in a race (most likely to success), relative to everyone else in the world.

Our colleague, friends, siblings, our hairdresser’s cousin’s wife, etc. are inevitably the Hare. They’ve got the degree, money, ideal spouse, whatever, and here we are, the Tortoise, trying to attain the same level of ‘success’ as our counterpart. Our goal isn’t the pinnacle of someone else’s life but the zenith of ours, simply because we each possess abilities and characteristics fit just for our own race.

Putting his pride aside, if Hare only ran the length of the racetrack prescribed, Hare would be short-changing himself because he is capable of sprinting multiple laps at that racetrack, literally running circles around Tortoise. Now if Tortoise tried to run laps to the same extent as Hare, especially at the same speed, Tortoise could quite possibly kill himself trying to attain a goal that wasn’t encrypted for his own physical capabilities. For Tortoise, his success lay in him doing what he knew how to do best: being slow and steady.

There are 7+ billion people on this Earth. There are 7+ billion different races to be ran. Your race track is different from mine, which is different from your neighbor’s, which is completely different from his adopted sister’s. The only person you’re racing with is the version of you that has reached your full potential with the unique traits and circumstances you’ve been given. ‘Finishing the race strong’, whatever that means to you, is certainly attainable if you don’t give up on yourself. Just do you and keep moving slow and steady.

You’re doing great!

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