In grade six, I was weirdly athletic. I was fast and strong and fiercely competitive, which, at age ten, can take you a pretty long way.
It was Track & Field day. I ran the 100m dash and soared through the long jump pit. I even wound up for a decent toss in the ball throw.
I came away from the day with a rainbow of ribbons. A couple firsts, a few seconds, and one single sixth place (which I probably threw in the garbage because who gives AF about sixth place amiright).
As I sat comparing ribbons with my friends to determine who did the best (a competition spearheaded by yours truly), the principal came around passing out a final ribbon to every student, ensuring no one went home empty handed. It was blue. And on the front it said, “I did my best.”
I did not throw that ribbon out. And not because I found it so profoundly touching, but because I found it so HILARIOUSLY LAME. Who would ever be satisfied with that?! I had a mitt full of red first place ribbons and some poor suck would be going home with nothing but the words I DID MY BEST printed in dumb gold font?
Fast forward eighteen years. I have (fortunately in some ways and unfortunately in others) not changed one bit.
I am still striving after that red first place ribbon as hard as ever and still endlessly analyzing who’s coming out on top – only this time, everyone else seems to care about this contest as much as I do.
We – as human beings in this insanely stressful 21st century – are never satisfied with an “I did my best” ribbon. We need the red #1. We want to be our best selves surrounded by the best people within the best workplace in our overall best life evarrr at all times. And because of this, we’re never fully satisfied because what if this isn’t the absolute best we can do? We always think there’s something better waiting for us.
And the thing is, we’re probably right.
We probably could do better.
We could date someone better – someone who not only has a badass personality but also has the job we want them to have. Someone who has the man bun, which is most definitely still a thing. Someone who knows how to flawlessly order at the all-you-can-eat sushi bar.
We could have a better job – a job that is more related to what we’ve always envisioned. the job that has better benefits, a better snack drawer, a more convenient place to lock our bike.
We could have better style. Better hair. We could have worn something better to that wedding last weekend. We could read better books and watch better shows and live an entirely better life.
Like, we probably could.
But why do we think we need to? And beyond that, why do we think we would actually know when the best thing ever hit us in the face? We’ll probably still assume there’s a better hit coming.
We’ve become so weirdly obsessed with finding the best thing that we forget to actually enjoy what we have.
I don’t think we should settle or give up. I don’t think we need to stop believing that we can do/be/have anything we want. By all means, shoot for that fuckin’ moon, man. I’m totally shooting with you. But I do think we should allow ourselves to be happy. We are allowed to enjoy the mundane, everyday, not-that-exciting parts of life. We are allowed to sleep in and make a half-assed attempt at looking nice (and we’re also allowed to do the opposite too, btw). Neither is right and neither is wrong and both are a-okay as long as you feel good about it.
We’re allowed feel something for someone who maybe isn’t exactly what we had envisioned. We’re allowed to work at jobs and surround ourselves with people and take up hobbies that maybe don’t fit this weird mould we’ve set in place for what our best lives should look like. Maybe they’re simply allowed to look however they look, and we’re allowed to be happy with that.
Maybe our lives, as a whole, can never actually be the best ever – but hey, they can be pretty fucking rad. And if that feels good right now, why do we think we need to (or even could) find something better?
I mean sure – there are a lot of things I would change about my life. I would have more $$$ in that savings account of mine; a higher pain tolerance and a smaller craving for potato chips. The ability to walk in high heels without looking uncomfortable AF. I would have more self-control and less FOMO. I would care less about my cuticles (I can’t even begin to explain how much I think about this). I would overreact less.
There are a lot of things I would change. BUT as the ribbon goes, I did my best. And you know what? I feel pretty fucking good about what I’ve done. Borderline great.
And maybe, maybe, that’s enough <3