I expect perfection from myself in all aspects of my life. Each conversation, every shift at work, every word I write has to be perfect.
The irony being that nothing ever is.
That’s why I get anxious, because I know I’ll never be able to live up to an impossible personal standard.
However I don’t see anxiety as a negative attribute to be avoided. I don’t see this as a troubled mind that can’t settle and accept the deficits of reality. I see this drive for perfection as something that pushes me to achieve great things time and time again. When I ran my first marathon I was anxious every step of the way. The anxiety nearly crippled me, but I persevered in the face of doubt and finished the race. When I go to work I fumble some conversations, and say things that don’t reflect what I’m actually thinking or don’t solicit the reaction I hope for, be it a smile, a laugh or a mutual understanding. But sometimes I don’t. Sometimes everything does go right as it only can when I push myself to constantly break my most recent plateau.
When you stop striving for more, you start stagnating and losing what you already have. Life is change and change can only have two outcomes, growth or decay. Those who settle for mediocrity, those who say this is good enough will never achieve the same heights as the strivers, the dreamers, and the achievers who believe things can be better. The greatest heights this world has ever reached have been achieved by the efforts of anxious men and women who persevered in the face of their own doubts and personal demons.
In other words, you will never reach perfection. But if you work hard enough for long enough you can come pretty damn close, and maybe someday that will be enough. Today however is not that day. That’s why I’m anxious to go to work today, that’s why I’ll edit this post 10 more times before I publish it and that’s why even when I do publish it I’ll still be unhappy with the result because I know it could always be better.
So be anxious, be worried, be afraid of not being able to perform when it matters. Because the day will come when you stop worrying about doing better, when you stop pushing to reach new heights. And that’s the day you should be afraid of, because that’s the day you stop being the agent of your own change, and allow someone else to take those reins.
I may never publish these words, I may feel that these demons are too much to share with others. But if I find the courage to bare this particular truth I do so because I want you to know you’re not alone. Because I want you to know that you do matter, and that the potential you feel within yourself is worth something.
You know it, and I know it.
So be proud of who you are and let the world see what you’re made of, because I bet you you’ll find your anxieties are nothing compared to the satisfaction of fighting through them to triumph.