Redefining Best

I see you all, out there doing your best, yet still feeling like you’re falling short; giving what you have to give and then, in hindsight, feeling inadequate.

When will we be able to acknowledge and feel comfortable knowing that our efforts are enough?

Only when we give ourselves permission to. Only when we stop looking outside ourselves for what defines best. Only when we unlearn how to qualify what best means.

We must stop trying to measure best. We must stop comparing bests. We are judging what we believe to be others’ bests against our own, and – not to mention – we’re trying to cover too many areas with our bests, which leads to mediocre everything.

Best is relative. The variables of best are endless. Best does not stand up to comparison, competition, judgement or critique.

Best is not linear; yesterday’s best could outdo today’s, and yet, that doesn’t mean that today’s effort wasn’t you showing up in the best way you could.

Best is a snapshot; intangible, liquid, fleeting.

Our best is what we have to give in any given moment. It changes, day to day, hour to hour. Our best can look weak or strong, calm or chaotic, but that does not change that it is what we have to give.

Best cannot be measured; it is a moment in time where we use the tools at our disposal, our knowledge as it stands in that moment, and there is no ruler that can quantify the results.

Our best is never perfect, and it may not be equivalent to success. It does not have any less value than what our best looked like yesterday, or what it may look like tomorrow.

Giving what we have to give is always enough. Our best is always enough.

Say it again. Say it over. And over.

Our best is always enough.

Why are we consistently beating ourselves up for giving everything we have to give? Berating ourselves for our best not being “as good” as someone else’s?

Do your best. Learn, grow, practice, train. Then, do your best. Don’t berate or belittle it, or hold it up for comparison. Recognize it, and own it. One day, our best might look like movement, and another it might look like sitting still. It may be reaching out to connect, or insulating ourselves to refuel. It is constantly shifting.

Achieving best is a cycle that we repeat until the end of time, and it is entirely internal and personal.

Best is a practice, not a destination.

Packing vs. Baggage

I’m a zealous over-packer. I like to have options. I like to be prepared for any number of situations, events, or misfortunes. My over-packing will, nine times out of ten, result in carrying back four or five outfits I never had the opportunity to wear when the trip concludes.

At least I got to work out my biceps, carrying all that weight around?

I like to comfort my overactive imagination (OK, let’s call a spade a spade, anxiety) with options, to feel prepared, ready for anything that may arise and anywhere travels may take me. They usually take me exactly where it is predicted I will be going, and a narrowed selection of attire would suit the occasions just fine, just as my husband tries to impart upon me as I struggle to zip the zipper.

This week, as more discussions and plans are happening around lifting stay-at-home orders and reopening businesses to the public, I’m trying to work out what I want to carry with me as I step outside the bubble I have been occupying.

How can we best prepare ourselves for what will greet us on the other side of this pandemic?

We will not be going back to the life we once knew. Normal is – and always has been – relative; we will not be able to rely on previous experiences. We must prepare ourselves, so that we do not plunge back into the abyss, the cycle of anxiety, anger and grief we have already walked.

Acceptance is going to be at the heart of moving forward.

How can we rethink, reframe normal? How can we begin to become accepting of the environment we will soon find ourselves in? A rush to “reopen” will not be a return to what was. This will hit us every time we venture out, to visit businesses, partake in previous activities. Our instinct will be to react against new rules, regulations and stipulations. If we don’t prepare ourselves, our emotions will be ripped open again, and we will rail against the new and wax poetic on what was.

I’m not sure how to build myself a cushion for those emotions just yet, but what I can work on is strengthening past behaviors I needed to change.

I am working through recognizing not just what I want to pack up and take with me from this pause, but also what I don’t want to continue to carry.

I will have to let go of some old habits, stories, mindsets if I want to emerge from this pause any better than I went into it, and create space for acceptance of the new.

When you are evaluating what you can pack up and take into this new season of life, not from when life was normal, but from what you have learned during this pause, think about what baggage you can unload that you no longer should be carrying.

For me, a few things that occupy that baggage list are:

Being less honest than I want to be and justifying it with the platitude of being nice. One can still be honest, and kind.

Doubting myself.

Feeling guilty when my values and choices don’t align with someone else’s.

Feeling badly when I say no to something I didn’t really want to commit time to, and feeling that it’s necessary to provide an explanation.

Doing things simply because others do them, or expect or believe I should be doing them.

Perpetuating stories that I was given, or accepted, and believe as truths that aren’t my storyline.

All of these things that I do, I typically do so under the guise of being kind or accommodating, and really I am simply undermining myself time and time again. These learned behaviors that have plagued and followed me through my journey are not beneficial to me, no matter how they mask themselves. Right now, I can cultivate, strengthen and reinforce my trust and confidence in myself. It’s misdirected to believe that others give you this; it’s only something you can gift yourself.

Pick and choose what you carry into this new season. We have the choice to leave most of what weighed us down before behind.

What are you packing, and what are you leaving behind in baggage claim?