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Photo: "12101558034" by SkiStar. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I grabbed a handful of chocolate chips and curled up in my favorite chair with a blanket.

The Olympics are good company on a Friday night at the end of a long week, when you feel a bit like a zombie. 

I watched Patrick Chan talk about his tireless work to perfect his performance since the last Olympics, competing against the the hopeful 19 year old from Japan for the Gold. The announcers detailed every victory and defeat of each contender as they performed, reminding the audience of the marks the judges would deduct for each bobble, every misstep, every fall. 

It sounds strangely familiar. It reminds me of the continuous play by play commentary that goes on in my head on the hard days. "And here comes the jump... oh no! You forgot another appointment! That's one more fall at a crucial moment in the week. After all that work, your performance has really been a disappointment. You really can't afford those kind of mistakes. You need to get this under control." 

I pressed the button to silence a commercial, wishing I knew how to find the mute button for this ugly internal commentary.  

As I watched the top three skaters perform, these young men who are literally the best in the world at what they do, I was surprised. Not one of them had a perfect performance. Each of them fell down or stumbled at least once, some of them multiple times.

This Winter Olympics more than any other I remember, I've seen it happen over and over again. The men who have devoted nearly every waking minute of the last 4 years to prepare for one race. One skate. The women who did everything in their power to make sure they would be able to deliver in that moment, when the whole world was watching.

And then... they miss a turn. They get disqualified. They fall down. 

Does this mean they didn't work hard enough? I seriously doubt it. Many of these men and women have already won medals... more than once. They don't exactly qualify as slackers. Does this mean they've been fooling everyone and they're really not that good after all? Not a chance.

Quite simply it means, they had a bad day. It means... they're human. I know, it's hard to grasp when you watch them fly down the mountain at superhuman speed. But it's true. 

So if these people have off days, why do I keep listening to the shame talk when my humanity starts to show?  Why don't I celebrate finishing the skate (or the day) after a nasty fall, no matter what "place" I come in. (Jeremy Abbot anyone? Google it. Seriously.) 

I'm still not exactly sure where the mute button is for the internal commentary. But there are other voices I'm learning to listen for on the hard days. To seek out even. Voices that bring hope, not shame.  

Sometimes, the best thing to do when you have a bad day, is to do what Sean White did after a disappointing performance in his only Olympic event this year. Spotting a friend in the crowd he reached out and said, "Come here man, I need a hug." 

No shame. Let's stick together and ask for help (or a hug) when we need it most. Because even the best have bad days.