Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Escaping the Fake Success of Trying to be Better Than Everyone Else

"Happiness depends upon ourselves." ~Aristotle

For as long as I can remember I have concentrated on being successful in all elements of my life. Every commitment I would make I would over exceed the goal because I thought for a long time that was the ingredient for being successful and happy. I remember times from early adolescence where I would exert every element of energy I had to be the “best in class.” Unlike school and athletics nowadays, when I was in school, not everyone got an award… only those deserving (and a few undeserving) received awards and it was my personal mission to receive every award and acknowledgement I could because I knew that was what would please my parents the most.

Recently, I came across a binder with all of the certificates I received through the years, I was not an athlete, and these were all academic achievements. It made me smile to think my mom saved so much of the stuff from when I was younger. What I choose to remember was that the driving force pushing me to excel was my parents. But now I have come to the realization that I was the one who wanted all the awards and recognition, for all of the wrong reasons… Everything I ever did, as much as I kid myself, was all driven by a different force other than to please my parents.

It was all about me.

I was an awkward adolescent with glasses, very tall and larger than most of my classmates, I did not have many friends because I had trouble connecting with others my age, I was uncomfortable with my own self image and had very low self esteem. All of those elements pushed me to prove I was better than everyone else, of course, I could credit my achievements to my parents but the real driving factor was me proving all of those who judged me, had judged me wrong. I was someone they should’ve wanted to be friends with, I was smart and motivated and those were the characteristics I continued to sell into college.

During college, I assisted in the foundation of two honor societies and an academic debate team… none of this was for others, it was again just me, compensating for not being in some sorority where I needed to rush to prove I was worthy of some college girls’ attention.

"Happiness is not a matter of events; it depends upon the tides of the mind." ~Alice Meynell

In fact, most of my life endeavors and accomplishments have been because I overachieved my own goals because I felt like the more awards, recognitions and accomplishments… the happier I would be. This was completely wrong. The happiness I would get out of these awards was just as disposable as the paper they were printed on.

So where does that leave me now?

Well I am still the same over achiever for the same wrong reasons. But, one of my most favorite quotes: “The only thing that is certain is change itself.”

I am changing and I am trying to change my perception of my life, become happier for the right reasons… avoid comparing myself to others and just compare myself to me. I’ve started to identify the things that are real to me.

The realist accomplishments in my life have been my ability to overcome the obstacles placed in my path. Now I find myself in 2012 in a conundrum, what is better “Being all I can be” or “Just being me” or is there a grey area?

I’m just not certain anymore.

Now that I’ve realized that I’m just an ordinary as everyone else I’ve lost a lot of hope in things. But why? Everyone else has hopes and dreams, shouldn’t I? It seems like just when I think things are turning around… they continue the extra 180 degrees and stay the same.

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want." ~Margaret Young

Inevitably change will occur and I hope that with it comes new light on perspectives I may not understand but will lead me to true happiness.

"The secret of health for both the mind and the body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, nor to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly." ~Buddha

1 comment:

Carrie L said...

I was an overachiever myself in many aspects of my life but in the last couple of years I have come to value the peacefulness that comes from being Ok with where you are at right now. Give yourself permission to just be who you are right now, where you are. We are always working on improving ourselves but we can also just be OK with where we are at right now. that way we appreciate what's going on now more. Otherwise you overlook what's going on now and are never content. I often say to myself I wish I would have done this or that but then I catch myself and say well I am where I am and that's Ok. I'm learning and getting better every day.