I grew up in a home that stressed the importance of achieving. Good grades were hung on the refrigerator, special meals baked for getting into an academic club, and rewards for being the “best” reader in sixth grade. It was as if my mom almost loved my sister and I more if we brought home something that showed achievement. I remember one day she even told me to not bother coming home if I hadn’t gotten an “A” in a particular class. It was this tough, militant-minded way of going about reaching achievement that left me burnt out in college and confused as an adult.
I did very well in high school. I was the nerd, the track runner and a strong introvert. Most people in my classes would consider me fairly bright but also quite quiet. Once I got to college, I realized how much I was being challenged by particular classes; I chose to take the math and the science courses that would challenge me. You see, my mom always wanted me to take those courses because she said that writing and what I liked to do, didn’t have much value in the real world. So I set off on a course to do something I didn’t love as much, in an effort to make her proud or earn her love. I wanted to feel as though I’d accomplished something worthwhile, as if my identity could ever be found in what I did.
It took me changing my major, changing schools, to understand, I’ll always be me, a writer and a thinker, and that I also have a mind for business and organization. You see, you can’t really change the gifts and talents you have. Sometimes the world appears to put one gift or talent above another, but that doesn’t make yours any less important. We don’t know the impact we have on others, what we might bring to another person. To deny the world what we uniquely have from our Creator, is both wasteful and selfish.
After college, I tried to find meaning and acceptance in my careers choices; being a go-to person, someone others could count on, and knowing all the answers. And honestly, sometimes I was. But whenever I was criticized, it felt like my very core was being “attacked”, my sense of accomplishment dwindling. That’s when I realized, whether I’m super liked in my position, whether or not my title is impressive, I’m still Christina Bennett. I’m enough because I’m me, not because of my gifts or talents, but solely because of who God made me from day one. There isn’t another person that is just like me or you, or can ever touch the world in the same way. Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with goal-setting and trying to achieve. I would encourage all to set clear goals to live an intentional and impactful life. However, when your sense of worth and value is wrapped up in your title or station in life, it becomes a problem. Because what happens when one day, you don’t have that “thing” anymore to say you are… what happens to you then?
So slowly, I’m unlearning the desire to keep up with the Jones’ accomplishments, unlearning the need to be first or to have all the answers. I’m bringing what I have to the table and honestly, it’s enough. I’m letting go of the voice of my mother saying I needed and “A” on a paper to come home. Unlearning the need to accomplish things like my friends or family do. Because we aren’t the same people, with the same gifts so why would we ever think that we should achieve the same things? It’s a lie we believe, one we tell ourselves that we should be like someone else. But just like a fox can dig and bury things in the ground, they don’t expect to fly like the eagle can. And likewise, the eagle doesn’t question why it can’t dig like the fox. He accepts he was meant to soar in the sky.
So whatever you are, the eagle, the fox, be “you”. Do what you’re meant to accomplish. It’s your life to live, your impact to make, so make it exceptionally you.
Photo Credit: http://iysigirl.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/07/bigstockphoto_accomplishment_-_road_sign_273784811.jpg