Why do I try SO hard?
I have recently been searching for an explanation for why I put myself through a hellfire and brimstone level of consternation in my efforts to produce meaningful work. I need a revelation as to why I have built a wall to bludgeon my forehead against hoping that I’ll eventually break through to purpose after I’ve had enough punishment.
My mother tells me that even as an infant it became glaringly clear that I held myself (and those around me) to a very high standard. If I was playing Jurassic Park I was going to be the best damn Velociraptor you’d ever laid eyes on even if no one had asked me to be or had a concept of how a sub par Velociraptor behaves in spite of it’s prehistoric insecurities. Somewhere, somehow as a child I learned to internally become the coach that stands next to you at the chin up bar while you are struggling to lift yourself up flush with all your might and is barking for one more rep, discounting all of the completed pull ups. I was the coach and the scrawny runt attempting to accomplish and measure up to some weirdly cultural measuring stick of achievement. Judge and the jury. All rise for the honorably skeptical Judge Noland.
I have always been there to let myself know just how much all of my previous efforts and accomplishments have fallen short and what is expected of myself next time (what is expected has always either been ludicrous or impossible).
So what does one do with oneself when found smack dab in the middle of ludicrous and impossible at the hand of one’s own expectations?
Well if I cut myself some slack and slide off the chopping block of my own scrutiny how will I ever accomplish something truly great and meaningful??
What I am finding right in between my high standards and my unhealthy expectations of myself is the present moment. Like the very moment in which I am typing the words you are now reading. I am no longer who I was when I made a decision last month and am not yet who I hope to be next year. I am someone who is in the process of being. I am a human who is halfway through a breath. Inhale then exhale, and there it is, the present moment. I have to be accepting of who I am in this moment or else I am holding my future self hostage with my past rap sheet as the gunman. Stale mate and check mate. I have been in a Cold War with myself for one too many moons.
I am learning that I can hold myself to a high standard without condemning how I reach for it. I can expect great things in considerable amounts from myself without keeping score or docking my own pay by means of withholding happiness or contentment from myself. I can exist in a constant state of growth without punishing myself for the parts of my life that need to be pruned.
It’s not about giving myself a break. I’ll never have a break from myself until the Good Lord sees it fit to take me. It’s about finding a stride and momentum; a pace. A pace where one foot leads by acceptance and the other follows by grace. This means of momentum defeats TRYING in all of it’s tiresome propaganda. No more finger wagging at my reflection in the mirror at the end of a day where I didn’t “do enough”. No more chin ups. No more measuring up. No more self hatred. I am done trying. Trying implies that I am suspicious of failure.
I am going to start buying stock in who I know myself to be right now. My stock prices will rise not when I achieve enough but when I know that I am enough before I set out to accomplish anything. This is how I end my Cold War of self chastisement and free myself to create and live in the freedom of purpose.
We can not try to be who we already are. Being who we are is how we build and grow into who we hope to be. Trying will ensure that we miss the one thing we can do something about : Being.