Stay in Your Lane

During my last workout of the year, the swimmer in the lane next to me frogged his legs out and almost kicked me a few times. It’s par for the course, but once or twice his hands skimmed my torso.

It startled me, if I’m honest—I felt a bit violated. “STAY IN YOUR LANE!” I yelled under the water.

Photo by  Alex Guillaume  on  Unsplash

I heard “stay in your lane” on the radio last fall. After that, like a new vocab word, the phrasing of “mind your own business” showed up everywhere. During that workout, it took on another meaning for me.

A tiny bit shaken up, I stopped and saw the woman sharing his lane toddling straight down the middle. She seemed completely unaware of Mr. Hands or the impact her star-fish-swim had on the rest of us.

I wrapped up my workout and stretched on the side. He was sure to stop by and apologize: “Hey, I’m so sorry. I know I bumped you a few times.”

He sort of glanced at the “lane ballerina” he worked to avoid his whole swim, but didn’t throw her under the bus. I respected this and told him not to worry.

Reflecting on last year, one of my more formative experiences was meeting Lizzie Velasquez at the Texas Book Festival. I moderated a conversation about her book “Dare to Be Kind: How Extraordinary Compassion Can Change Our World” and listened to Lizzie explain, “Hurt people hurt people.”

A month later, I had this quoted back to me. Someone I cared about, who I had invited in, left my pool suddenly. He said, “Hurt people hurt people. I wish I could say my past experiences didn’t shape how I handle relationships today. But they do.”

It seemed that someone in his past had “pushed him in his lane.” In turn, he pushed me. I’m anxious, specifically in dating, about doing the same to someone else. When a person reacts to their own lane violation and hurts us, how do we stay in ours to stop the ripple? Is the answer to slow down, speed up, relocate? Sometimes, as we know, the crash can happen so fast it’s unavoidable.

There must be answers and answering to our own hurt has to be a key component. As we exit the month of goals and enter one of love, I aim to hold authentic conversations with myself and others. I worry that I could be “in someone’s lane” and not even realize it. The bravery lies in self-awareness and thwarting the hurt. I wonder if that’s Valentine possible. 


Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)

-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.