My Best Self Is Tired

My relentless drive to reach my own potential sometimes exhausts me, and I wonder if the fuel I use to push myself weaves in some pretty mean assumptions. Will I ever reach enoughness? Do I even want to?

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Person Sitting on a Rock at Golden Hour

My Instagram feed reminds me of what my best self can accomplish and how good it feels to lead with that part of me. In fact, I have a collage on my wall with proclamations that inspire me over and over:

  • We can do hard things! (as Glennon Doyle famously says).
  • Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20 (thank you, anonymous truthteller).
  • Eleanor Roosevelt reminds me to “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
  • If you’re not making mistakes then you’re not doing anything, according to John Wooden (and I emphatically agree).
  • Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. Wisdom from George Bernard Shaw.

I could go on and on. And I often do, scrolling, nodding, bookmarking pithy wisdom and agreeing wholeheartedly.

“I’ll get on that ASAP,” I think to myself.

And then I sleep late. Tune into my favorite Netflix show (currently Greenleaf – can’t wait to talk to someone else who loves that show!). Watch a cute YouTube video and smile (send me your fave’s – I love them all!).

My best self yawns. Not because I don’t want to optimize my life. I do. Sincerely, I do.

This is one of my favorite photos of my daughter (she’s now a senior in high school, so it was quite a while ago). Her fairy wings look a bit bedraggled and her energy is pretty low.

It’s just that it’s relentless, this wanting to be better. It’s mentally exhausting.

“If I just memorize this book,” I think after a particularly resonant and uplifting and impactful self-help book grabs me, “I’ll have everything figured out. Then, I’ll be set.”

Only I’m not set. I’m still searching for the right plan, the right infrastructure, the right approach – frankly, the right me.

I’m worn out by the eternal quest. I don’t want to give up. I just want a nap.

It’s the ultimate irony that I’m a life coach, isn’t it? I’ve dedicated my career and a not-insignificant amount of my leisure time to human optimization (grand experiment = myself!). I salivate when Brene Brown is going to publish a new book. I gush to my friends, colleagues, and clients about Susan David, Rick Hanson, and Tara Brach in a way that can only be described as prostelatyzing. Audible is my most used app.

Yet, I can’t help but cringe at the “be better, do better” mentality in our zeitgeist. I can only reinvent myself so many times before I start to question whether my quest for greatness has a wounding assumption lurking underneath. Within my relentless seeking is a condemnation of myself, my body, and my life.

Can we want to improve while also accepting ourselves just as we are? Is it possible to embrace my flawed body, my leaky infrastructure, my overflowing bookcase and also bask in what I have, what I’ve created thus far in life?

Maybe I’m at one of the scenic overlooks, marveling at the view and at how far I’ve climbed while watching the parade of self-helpers tromp up the mountain behind me on the trail. Sitting here on this rock in the sun feels good. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to ascend further. It’s just time for a sun bath, an exhalation, and a bit of silence.

“Yes,” my best self whispers quietly, “let’s just rest for a while right here.”

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