We are surrounded by competition.
Brands fight for our loyalty as they try to sell us products.
Co-workers try to out-do one another's efforts as they strive for promotions.
Musicians write songs with dreams of Grammy Awards and accolades.
Bloggers try to come up with that one post that's finally going to go viral.
The media tells us it's needed, society tells us it's crucial and it's what feeds that little voice at the back of our heads.
But what if we realised that success isn't a one lane race.
What if we realised that we're each in our own lane, running to reach our own goals.
What if we realised that we don't have to be in their lane.
The starting point is different, the end point is different and every step along the way is unique.
This is an idea I've been pondering for quite some time - but one I never knew how to explain to others until I was listening to Annie Downs on Christy Nockels' podcast and she finally gave me the visual I needed to explain it.
I'm a really competitive person, don't get me wrong; but I've realised that there's only one person running my race - and that's me.
As a blogger, I am constantly surrounded by articles on how to be a "better blogger", how to get XXXXX Instagram followers, how to keyword posts better to get more Google traffic, how to create Pinterest images that are guaranteed to go viral, how to plan your year so you're ready to succeed and what people we should be looking to for wisdom and drive..... but I don't think that's right.
Our success shouldn't be measured in comparisons.
Our success shouldn't be measured in numbers or awards or followers or praise... because maybe that's not the lane we're in.
As a blogger, I'm not in a race with that blogger who has 1 million followers and is currently featured in 16 different magazines.
As a business owner, I'm not in a race with that business owner who launched his business 2 months ago and just made his first million.
As a wife, I'm not competing with Joe's wife who gives Martha Stewart a run for her money and always seems to have everything just so.
But as Kristy, I do have to be my best.
I'm over here, running in my own lane, facing hurdles and struggling over bumps, bouncing with happiness and joy and sometimes just walking steadily.
I'm here, running my own race and not trying to beat you at yours.
And do you know what that means? I'm free to run my race well.
I'm not trying to get into your lane.
I'm not slowing down as I beat myself up for not being as fast or as strong or as agile.
I'm not giving up altogether because no matter what I do I can't get into your lane.
When you realise you're running your own race, you start to focus on your form and realise what's really important.
When you realise you're running your own race, you realise that you can cheer on those in lanes around you and really celebrate their success.
The world might be telling us that we need to do better, be better and measure up to everyone else - but it's missing the point.
The blogging world might be telling me I need to create "on trend" recipes, post on specific days and times, share my posts on this that and the other group and get to at least 10K followers on Instagram - but I'm saying otherwise.
I want to be genuine, not generic.
I want to be passionate, not popular.
I want to be real, not remarkable.
When it comes to blogging, my greatest success is finding out that I'm a little part of your story. Whether that's because you baked a cake recipe from the blog for your birthday or brought a meal to a friend with allergies when she had a baby, created a DIY project featured on the blog as a gift for a friend or finally found a bread recipe your newly coeliac child will eat.
When it comes to being a wife, my greatest success is making my husband happy - not having a perfectly immaculate home or being a trophy wife.
When it comes to being a friend, my greatest success is being available when I'm needed - not being the "cool" person everyone wants to be seen with.
I want every reader who comes across Southern In Law to feel like they're sitting down with a friend over coffee - not reading a magazine with headlines designed to hook you in and page after page of lifeless content.
But this approach doesn't just apply to blogging - it applies to everything in life.
As a mother, you don't have to follow the latest and greatest advice to the letter - because your family isn't a case study.
As a worker, you don't have to be a CEO if that's not your lane - and you don't have to be stuck in a job just for the title.
As a wife, you don't have to be just like so-and-so who seemingly has the midas touch - because she's in a different lane.
As a friend, you don't have to always have perfect makeup and a perfect house or host fancy dinner parties because maybe your lane is one that involves sweatpants and jammie and junk food catch ups.
But you do need to be yourself.
You need to work out what your lane is (in that moment; because, unfortunately, we can't see all the way to the finish line) and run that race with passion and gusto.
You need to look at your form and see how you can improve when it's needed.
You need to cheer on your friends and family and those around you as they run their own races by your side.
We're all in different lanes - and that's a really beautiful thing.
But tell me, how do you stop yourself envying or trying to get into someone else's "lane"?
And what's one life lesson you think everyone needs to learn?