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.

Passing Go

monopoly, passing go, playing, board game

Two months ago, I jumped into a fitness challenge. I joined a gym with a three-month commitment. I signed up with a team, forcing my hand in accountability.

I have never belonged to a gym; my experience has been, at best, an intermittent affair with the gym at work. I have never taken fitness classes. I have never lifted weights with any real intention or direction. I have never shared space with people who push themselves so physically.

Up until about two weeks ago, I was the only person, and in some cases the youngest person, in my classes using pastel dumbbells; the 2, 3 and 4 pound weights. Week after week, in a series of movements, there were my two pastel dumbbells in a sea of black dumbbells in the mirror reflecting back at the class.

To say I have pushed myself out of my physical comfort zone would be an understatement. Not only was I in a new environment, I was carrying around the symbol of a beginner, and – in my head – the symbol of someone who is weak. There were moments where my internal critic’s shouts echoed off the walls of my own head, mocking me, trying to make me uncomfortable. That’s her job after all.

Without that discomfort, though, there wouldn’t be any growth. Without pushing past that unease, there would be no success, no fulfillment, no satisfaction of accomplishment. And that critic, the one telling me that I was weak, that everyone was judging me with those pastel dumbbells as not working as hard or pushing myself enough?

She was full of shit.

The truth is, no one gave a second thought to me and my pastel dumbbells.

There aren’t any pastel dumbbells in the mirror that belong to me now, but I will be the first to encourage and applaud the woman who walks into the next class and picks them up. That is, if I even notice her; what I have realized is that the serious ones, the ones who are working the hardest, are wrapped up in their workout and focusing on one thing: themselves.

Everyone who is inspiring you to grow started somewhere, were beginners at some point. It takes courage, self-worth, self-value, and passion. It takes believing that the journey is better than any momentary discomfort. It takes grit. It takes keeping your focus and your energy in your own lane.

And it takes being able to step out of your own comfort zone and tell your inner critic to take a muzzled seat.

I launched this blog after thinking about it for months. I consumed a variety of opinions on what a blog should look like, how a blog should be managed and found that there were already plenty of people talking about the things that I wanted to talk about. I could have worked myself right into inaction. This blog isn’t perfect, there are people out there doing it better than I am, and I’m happy with that because if I had waited until it was perfect I wouldn’t be in this space at all. I’m here and being in a space where people are doing it better than I am both pushes me harder and assures me that I have room to grow.

If my value in this space was wrapped up in other people’s validation or approval of it, I’d be doing it for all the wrong reasons. I’m here for me. I’m here for the women who have reached out to let me know that my words have had an impact on them.

Without starting, you’re only guaranteed one thing: you’re not going anywhere. Your internal critic doesn’t want you to pass go; she is extremely comfortable and content with where you are. She wants you to think that it’s everyone else that you have to prove yourself to. She’s banking on your not being able to overcome the discomfort of judgement.

One of the most fulfilling actions you can take is the first step in proving that she’s wrong.