I have always — both by choice and against my will — found myself in high-pressure, competitive environments. I am constantly surrounded by the smartest, prettiest, most athletic and most giving people.
Throughout all of my schooling, I was amongst the best of the best. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I was drawn to a college that offered the same type of environment.
Upon finding yourself amongst a bunch of incredible people, it’s easy to feel inadequate. It’s somewhat troubling but true that sometimes in life, your personal best simply isn’t enough, given the superior abilities that others encompass.
There will always be someone who’s faster, tougher, smarter and even more successful than you are. However, accepting this as an undeniable truth doesn’t give any of us reason to stop striving and to start settling. In fact, it should do quite the opposite.
It is impossible to never compare oneself to others, no matter how hard you try. Competition is natural and humans wouldn’t thrive or survive without it.
It pushes us to see how far we can go and to rally our best resources. It’s healthy. But sometimes, we forget that this attitude, determination and need to be better than the next person is something we can use to better ourselves; it’s something we can use to be our best selves.
There are times when you know you are giving less than you can manage. There are times when you know you could have been a better friend for someone who needed it -- a better lover, sister, brother, roommate, what have you.
That guilt, no matter how slight, serves as a reminder that, in settling and slacking, you’re directly affecting the lives of the people about whom you care.
We’re a cohesive race; we need other people. When you’re not doing your part to be your best self, your community as a whole cannot function to the best of its ability.
It’s easy to feel like your actions and your choices are small and insignificant. However, we must remember that they are neither small nor insignificant; everything you do has a direct and concrete impact in the lives of one or many people, even if it may not be completely evident to you.
You are under no obligation, ever, to be the best compared to the people in your environment, whether that means within your school, your workplace or with your family, your friends or your community at large.
You are under an obligation to be the best version of yourself. I may never have the highest GPA, but I’ll graduate knowing that I tried as hard as I could.
I may never make six figures at my job — in fact, I may not even get a job when I graduate — but I know that I’ll end up doing something about which I am passionate.
You — and only you — know what’s important to you. You’re the only one who can define what “success” and “the best” means. For some, this might be true happiness and for others, it could be love, money, a family, adventure or some combination of anything.
You owe it to yourself, to everyone you love and to everyone who loves you to push toward this goal with all of the strength you can muster.
Photo via Stand By Me