Can you hear that good ol’ Tina Turner song playing like a record in your mind now? You’re very welcome :) I have Tina crooning these lovely notes on YouTube as we speak (or rather, as I write and you read!).
Tina goes on to sing about being better than anyone and better than all the rest. Of course, she’s singing to a lover, but what if as a child, you internalized this to mean being the best at everything? Always trying to succeed, to win, to be that proverbial “number one”? Having no less than a 100 on your spelling test, an A+ in college, no mistakes in your job? Almost certainly, this spells anxiety riddled throughout one’s life.
Honestly, what’s the purpose of being at the top?
So many people, even famous comedians, have described their success as lonely and exhausting. There’s no time to rest, to enjoy life, to enjoy the very successes that are so dreadfully sought after. And when is enough enough? When do you get to take a step back and lie in the sunshine that your hard-earned time and money paid for?
I can tap into this feeling so well because I’ve lived this very life. I was that student in 2nd grade who cried when she got a 98 (yes a ninety-eight people) on her Spelling test. I would spend days in a slump when I received an A- in college. In my jobs, I was never content so I created more work, took on more projects inside and outside of work, and always sought after a higher salary.
Recently, I achieved what I thought I wanted. I had created the very job and the very salary that matched what was in my mind all this time from childhood. I had found a way to be close to fame and the sun. Life was a party… or so it seemed to those around me. On the inside of my circle, I wasn’t sleeping or eating, I was working 10-12 hourr days, and I slowly beginning to self-medicate. I began to become angry and I wasn’t sure at who or what. I’d lash out in fury only to quickly realize that was not the real me or who I genuinely wanted to be. I wondered what the heck was the point of being the best if people DID notice or didn’t notice? The acknowledgement (or lack thereof) sure didn’t change the struggles I was facing. I was fighting so hard to keep it all together and to keep up with all of my work without mistakes...even cutting things out of my life that I LOVED to make room for the work. I got more and more lethargic.
So… I gave up.
I lost all energy to fight and I seriously gave up and let life jump in. I decided the HELL with being the best. If being the best meant losing sight of what was really important to me (time with my dog, healthful living, meaningful relationships, a sense of contentment within myself), than what was the point?
I still haven’t got it all figured out yet, but I do know that being NOT the best is feeling pretty liberating right now and I’m seeing and respecting other’s faults and idiosyncrasies more and more. After all, they are the thumbprint that makes us all unique and beautiful.
Do you fight being the best at something just to be met with internal or external resistance? How do you deal with it? What brought you to feel that you needed to be more than you are?
You are enough… even if you’re not the best!
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.”
― Jim Carrey