“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Personal growth. The continuous pressure to be better, do better, and become the “best version of yourself.” I’m tired from constantly trying to improve everything wrong with me. I recognize I have a lot of room for improvement, and I think we all do. Nobody on this Earth is perfect.
But it’s this constant pursuit of trying to be happier that is making many of us miserable.
I’ve read tons of self-help books, listened to all the podcasts, published tons of articles, and even wrote my own book about personal growth. I’ve been to four different therapists, had EMDR, been on multiple medications, tried different meditations, switched jobs, and all in the pursuit of getting better and happier. And the worst part, trying to figure out “what’s wrong with me.” I’ve spent countless hours consuming this content in the pursuit of personal growth. I’ve done a lot of work.
But I’ve beat myself up so much for not being the best I could be, for making mistakes, and for who I am. I’d get upset about not meditating, not getting my to-do list done, my run or workout in, and not accomplishing my goals for the day, week, month, or year. And really all it’s done, it seems, is made me believe I’m a shitty person because I’m not doing enough.
I will never be fulfilled because of all the advice telling me I constantly need to be improving and transforming myself into something else instead of being content with how I am at this moment. What is most detrimental, is the belief that I need help with who I am.
And maybe I do.
But it’s exhausting. And I’m exhausted.
We try to hack everything — our time, our productivity, our goals. And while we are doing that, we don’t realize the toll it may be taking on our bodies, minds, relationships, and lives.
There are endless ways we can improve ourselves but when does it become too much? When does it end? The constant advice to get better, wake up at 4 am, time-block, be productive, and win at all costs. We are flooded daily with motivation, inspiration, achievements, and toxic positivity. I’m guilty of doing it myself.
However, it’s getting to the point that enough will never be enough. We will keep chasing the next best thing. The next fad, the next hack, the next “influencer” or “thought leader.” I don’t even know what that means.
It’s okay to quit sometimes. To take a break. It’s okay to give up something that is not working for you instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do for the sake of “growth.”
Maybe growth is taking a step back when you need to, and realizing what you are doing to yourself is not good. It’s figuring out that growth shouldn’t come at the cost of your mental or physical health. And maybe growth has nothing do with hacks, productivity, or achievements. It’s about finding yourself and what is right for you.
I’m owning that I’m imperfect, I’ve made a ton of mistakes, and I accept that I will make more. I do need to grow in a lot of areas, mainly relationships. I am a very flawed human being, and I know this. I’m willing to admit that. I have work to do.
But, right now, I just want to be.
Maybe that’s what is best for you right now, too. If you feel a little tired, it’s okay to slow down. To not be so productive. Growth is not sacrificing yourself. It’s not constantly making yourself miserable and feeling like you are not enough.
You are enough and you are worthy right now.
In this moment.
Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at jeffthewriter.com and jefftherunner.com.
Image courtesy of Matteo Vistocco.