I didn’t set out to be the best in school- it was a byproduct of the work I put in. I worked hard to learn and memorize as much as I could in order to fully understand the material I was to be tested on- ignoring the effort (or lack thereof) of other students. But the undertone of comparison still crept in as professors and teachers would announce that I scored the highest. I performed the “best”. When I wasn’t the best I wasn’t happy. But when when I was the best, that didn’t necessarily make me happy either. I never realized the truth behind my hard work was fear of not being the best. The fear of that horrible feeling of being completely unprepared for a test that I had one shot at taking. And what have all those perfect scores done for me? 

The truth is you can be perfect in school, it is reflected in your grades. But the truth of life is that you can never be perfect nor the best. There will always be someone a little bit better, faster, smarter, and if you are the best, even for a brief moment, the next best player will be fast on your heels. Keep up momentum or fear being replaced…

Post-school I realized a big lesson. Things aren’t as black and white as they were in my days of formal education. There isn’t always a right answer for every situation. You can’t just study the material for life and be prepared. Life is a game that school didn’t prepare me for. This post-perfection world has left me in a tizzy, my entire world and self-worth has gone out the window along with my sanity and surprisingly, my work ethic. I’ve been trying to figure out (typical perfectionist) exactly why I have been so…well, lazy these post-college days. I have lost focus, lack motivation, and just feel generally lost, depressed, and anxious. Reflecting back on my college days, I wasn’t happy studying for 12 hours in a day, even saying it seems unfathomable to this current-day self that I have become. I am not quite sure how I pumped out so much work and read so many pages each day. Day after day, taking no breaks. I felt anxious when not doing work. Now I feel anxious just thinking about doing any kind of work. Most days I can barely muster up the strength to do anything and find myself sitting in contemplation wondering why I’m not doing anything at all. Projects looming overhead… 

 Keeping up a constant state of perfection and hard work is not sustainable. My high expectations for myself drove me to the ground. Now this burnt out version of my once productive being contemplates what my next step will be since my seemingly passionless existence has risen up and taken ahold of the mothership. Trying to find purpose in the madness of my mind has been the ultimate quest consuming my entire being for months. Putting so much pressure on myself has been counter-productive in finding the solution. My search for meaning has left me more lost than before. And as for an answer about why my productivity has gone down, I’m not quite sure. My fear of not being perfect at the career and business I choose to pursue is probably a major factor. I don’t like going into things thinking I possibly won’t be good at it or I won’t have a chance to be successful at it. This fear has left me in a state of inaction. This fear has held me back from mostly pursuing everything, not thinking I will be good at something or not be smart enough. There are many layers to my problem: fear of failure, insecurity, indecision, lack of concentration, “head-in-the-clouds-syndrome,” lack of perceived passion, newfound procrastination, anxiety, depression… What happened to the days of complete focus and concentration reading for hours on end…?

The only solace is falling back to loved ones. I wish I had realized this sooner- that connections are the glue to keep your life and sanity together. People are the only thing that make life worth living. I neglected forming and keeping connections while I was working so hard. But without people, connections, interactions, friendships, relationships, family…nothing else matters.

If you are going to strive to be the best at something even after reading this blog post, I urge you to strive to be the best girlfriend, daughter, son, husband, mother, friend, that you can be.