The Best We Can Be
We all within our lives strive to do, be, or have the best that we can. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We as human beings are meant to grow - not stagnate. There is something to be said about achieving goals, as it helps us to learn and to grow as we go on through life. I have but one question: when is something good enough?
Now I'm not trying to put a negative slant on things, but how far does this go? Sometimes we drive it to the point of near overkill. Fear not, I'm not going to go on a rant about corporate America today. This is not the time for it. What I would like to focus on is something related, yet in a more personal vein. It's about the reasons why we do what we do.
Reason To Be
Generally, most of us strive to be almost perfect. We try to make things exactly as they "should" be. We hope that it pleases everyone and works with everything. Naturally, this simply is not possible. Once again, this is truly not my point. Just what do we derive from being perfect? Is it a sense of accomplishment, or a feeling of being accepted by your peers or family? Could it be that we feel we're not good enough if we aren't perfect? Where does this all come from? Could it be that we are doing this to please others and not ourselves? Let's find out!
For me, it goes back to childhood. One of the reasons that I always felt the need to be perfect is because I was constantly told by my peers that I couldn't do something. That really hurt me, so I pretty much put my personal beliefs of what was "good enough" aside (if I ever had them in the first place) and focused on pleasing others.
I remember being admonished several times by family members, "do you want people to think of you a certain way, or would you rather have them think of you in a better way?" I believe that this is where it really hit home with me. It was forever etched upon my mind. As a result, I strived to be the best at everything. I remember that I was the second-fastest sprinter in my entire elementary school. I tried like hell to beat the other guy. It was frustrating. and my coach was pretty rough on me as well. I was also one of the best servers on a co-ed volleyball team. My team won both tournaments in 5th and 6th grades. I consider this an accomplishment. I also excelled at spelling bees. I have photo albums full of awards and memorabilia to attest this. Unfortunately, this perpetuated the cycle even more and blinded me as to what I was really feeling. Was I really doing this all for myself, or was I doing it to please my family, teachers, and peeers? I never really thought about it until very recently.
A few months ago, it really hit me as to why I was doing many things. For nearly 6 months, I was producing a radio show two days a week for a station in Belgium and it seemed to be going well. I was told that it was getting better all the time. However, to me it did not seem the case. I pretty much vanished from the air and didn't give them notice. I had developed so much dissatisfaction with myself that I started to feel like I was obligated to make the programs. I wasn't enjoying them, and I think that it showed in my presentation.
Here We Go Again...
There was a sound of dreadfulness in my voice. "Well, here we go with another week of shows that I'm only doing to please someone else..." Of course I didn't say that, but people who know me could hear it in my voice. It was then that I accepted the fact that I was doing this to please others and not myself. I made the decision to stop, albeit not in the proper manner, for I couldn't bear to tell the station owner/manager what my true feelings were. I have issues with hurting people. I try to avoid it all costs, yet I end up doing it indirectly (or directly) somehow. It hurt me to admit to others that I wasn't deriving satisfaction from making the programs. At first I said that I didn't like doing it. This was not the truth; I was just trying to get in touch with my feelings, and i was swinging from one extreme to the other. I realized that I was just not happy with the outcome, and that no one seemed to be listening, so I thought to myself "no one cares, so why should I even bother?"
Selfishly, I made the decision just to stop. At first it was that I used the reason that my aunt had a stroke (the "family tragedy") as an excuse, but weeks went by, then a few months. The station owner contacted me via email to see if everything was OK. I took a few weeks to answer back. I felt ashamed for what I had done. I had been doing the show for nearly 6 months, and abruptly stopped. I will admit that what I did was extremely selfish, and I owe him a tremendous apology. I know of only one way to make it up to him - and that would be to return to the airwaves. Unfortunately at this time, I don't feel that I have the capacity or drive to do so. I'm sure that it will return and when it does, I'll gladly jump on the wagon once again! I do listen to the station quite often online and I hear a station sweeper (station identification) that I made for him. I think that it's in hopes that I will soon return. Others have asked as well. I wish not to disappoint them. But I do have to ask myself if I truly wish to. Only time will tell.
This event caused me to think about alot of things - am I doing them for my own pleasure, or am I seeking approval and acceptance from others? My previous therapy session focused primarly on that issue. It seemed that a vast majority of things that I was doing was to please others. In fact, if you want take a cross-section of my life, there is a lot of performance-oriented criteria. It involved a sense of "if I was good enough or not." I always put my self-esteem and beliefs on the chopping block, and bled profusely when I found out I wasn't good enough. I would subject myself time and again to the same situation. And, if the situation wasn't of that nature, I found a way to twist, distort, and conform it to be that way. Pretty soon, everything in my life was of a "performance-oriented" nature. Naturally, I wasn't good enough. I soon resigned to the fact that I was a loser and that there was no hope for me.
When Is It Good Enough?
Let's ask ourselves that question - when is it good enough? The answer simply enough is this: when it's good enough for ourselves. Too many people spend way too much time trying to please others and not themselves. They keep acheiving these goals because they feel it's the thing that they "should" do. They feel that if they don't do these things (i.e. go to college, get married, have a family, aspire to being a millionaire, or at least a significant amout of money) that they aren't anything. Outside influences have such an impact on us, whether it be from our family and friends, advertising and the media, or society itself. In addition, because we strive for this perfection, we might miss out on the fact that we are indeed in a moment that we can enjoy and treasure, only to keep reaching for that upper echelon. As a result, we go through life unsatisfied and unhappy. Go on, ask any millionaire (or any overachiever) if he/she is truly happy. The answer may surprise you.
A Quick Note
It's a shame that the ones who truly feel that they indeed are good enough, are shunned and cast away because they don't meet certain criteria in life - almost to the point of persecution. Let's face it, the puritannical ways are still very much intact in this country. Although we don't drown or hang people based on their beliefs, the viewpoint is very much alive and well. It's funny how things change, yet stay the same. I'm saving this one for later though. I'll relish in that rant!
The Bottom Line
Please, stop doing things just to please others and putting your feelings or desire for enjoyment on the "back burner!" Of course, don't stop doing things for others as a nice gesture, necessity, or because you care about them. But please remember that your feelings are indeed important, nonetheless. If you're not happy, then life appears to be pretty miserable to live. You can also do stuff like volunteer work, which benefits both sides of the equation - you're helping someone else and in turn, you get a sense of satisfaction and/or pride from it. In summation, my friends, you are GOOD ENOUGH and (gulp) I AM TOO!
...And that's food for thought. Munch on that for a while.