By Christopher Cudworth
Perhaps you’ve met someone who talks about their life and exploits in the Third Person. It’s a weird habit. It’s hard to do if you’re not accustomed to the egotistical take on life. But it goes something like this:
“Christopher Cudworth’s got to go now. Christopher Cudworth has got a workout to do.”
At what point does a human mind switch from a normal worldview to speaking about oneself in the third person?
Perhaps the whole talking about yourself in the Third Person happens after some traumatic event in life. Or maybe people get so tangled up in trying to communicate their personal brand to the world they just shift over and take on a third-person personality.
It’s a lot of work though. You have to shift over permanently to the Big Gear of Personal Objectivity, which is basically just Ego on the Single Speed bike of personhood.
Which reminds me of the dude I saw riding in The Wright Stuff Century last year. He was doing the whole trip on a single-speed bike and the hills were just killing him. His little red beard was covered in dripping sweat and his round little military-style bike helmet was sitting a little crooked on his head. It would have been a perfect moment for a third person comment like, “Whoa, Single Speed Guy is about to Bonk!”
I watched him at the rest stop. He sat dripping sweat while downing a couple Salted Nut Rolls and a quart of Gatorade. But he kept on going, Single Speed Dude had balls, I’ll grant him that.
I’ve met many a runner who fit the whole Third-Person Runner gig. One was Mr. One Step. I’ve written about the time I decided to teach him a lesson by getting in good enough shape to bury his annoying habit of turning every Saturday morning group run into a race. For every half-step he surged ahead that day, I countered his move until we pulled away from the group at sub-6:00 pace. For a couple miles we went flying along until he finally broke. We talked it out and he finally got the message. But if he had been a Third Person kind of guy it might have gone like this:
“That’s it! Mr. One Step wants to know what’s going on!?”
I told him, “People are sick of you racing them in training,” I actually explained. “I’m a hired gun to help you realize what it’s like.”
I’m not sure the lesson was fully learned. He took to cycling a bit more that summer. No doubt he was Mr. Half Wheel at that.
See, we all have a bit of Third Person personality in our souls. It helps us drive forward in all our endeavors. Putting in the work to set a PR at some distance, to finish a half marathon, marathon or triathlon all requires a bit of calculated objectivity on our part. We become Marathon Woman or Half Ironman Person for a time.
When we achieve our goal the entire enterprise shifts over. Sometimes we raise the stakes. Okay, now Christopher Cudworth doesn’t just want to complete a marathon, Christopher Cudworth wants to set a new PR too! 3:00 hours here we come! Go for it Christopher Cudworth!
Yes, we all know it’s geeky and a little pathetic the way we set ourselves up to win or fail. But what would life be without a little Third Person drama to kick us down the path toward temporary stardom?
We may not be aware we’re doing it, but becoming Fund Raising Woman or Summer Road Racing Man is part of the Third Person venture of being an athlete at any level.
Just ask the Frank Thomas, The Big Hurt, who was just installed into Baseball Hall of Fame. Third Person always worked for him. It was much better than talking directly to journalists anyway.