Keeping it Real.

Have you ever had the opportunity of asking yourself what you might have accomplished had you actually tried your hardest? And when I say hardest, I mean you 100% did absolutely everything you could have to accomplish something with precision and even possibly perfection. After having asked myself this the other day, I found that I couldn’t honestly say I’ve tried my best at any of my major accomplishments or anything for that matter, despite having told my mother many times that I had. Despite even telling myself I had. If I were going to be drastically honest with myself, I haven’t, ever. That’s a tough pill to swallow. It makes me question my own success. It makes me wonder what I’m truly capable of. It dares me to dream what I could have and still can accomplish.

When asked what achievements I have accomplished that I am most proud of, I have never been able to honestly answer that question. In fact many times when writing a response following that question I have found myself stumped and unable to muster up a satisfying response. Yeah sure I graduated top 3% of my class, I was Editor and Chief of my school newspaper, I had a high school internship at the local newspaper before one was necessary, I made a perfect score on the state writing exam, I volunteered more hours than necessary, I was a member of a handful of high school sports and I got accepted to both a prestigious private school and a superior state school. Following high school I looked pretty stellar on paper. I was awarded several scholarships and am now getting paid to attend that state school where I was asked to join a popular sorority and have had the privilege of becoming well acquainted with all of the right people on campus. Now to many all of these achievements would be seen as a success, but to me it’s as if none of this meets my standards of what I could have accomplished had I truly tried my hardest. To me, something has still felt as if it were a missing piece in the puzzle that is my life. And I am just now realizing that that piece is a solid work ethic.

I could have practiced more in sports and told that voice in my head that told me to give up before I had really put forth my full physical effort to take a hike. I could of, I don’t know, actually studied for my exams maybe a few nights beforehand instead of a few minutes before. I could have actually studied for the SAT exams and scored a higher score. I could have actually done my homework and taken the time to learn the information. I could have given myself enough time to consider my project topics. I could have devoted an afternoon a week to volunteering and helping someone who can’t even help them self. I could have continued taking guitar lessons. I could have actually participated in choir. I could have finished that painting everyone is still impressed by despite it’s shortcomings. I could have maybe finished reading the purpose driven life five years ago and now be able to feel as if my life was driven by a purpose. Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda.

So after all these years, after scattering my energy in so many different places and learning a little about a lot and not a lot about a little, why haven’t I attempted to achieve my full potential? What force has blindly crippled me from becoming all that I can be? I remember growing up and thinking to myself that the reason I wasn’t as skilled in athletics as my peers was because I was afraid to try my hardest. Now, why on earth would one be afraid to try their hardest? Well my rationality always reasoned that if I did in fact try my hardest and for some reason it wasn’t good enough, I was a failure. But if I in turn didn’t try my hardest and still failed, for some reason I felt better knowing that I could have tried harder. For some reason I rationalized that it was more acceptable to not try my best because if I failed I would be able to be safe in the knowledge that I could have done better. So in reality, I self sabotaged myself throughout my childhood and adolescence by not allowing myself to reveal my honest potential.

Looking back on my reasoning now, I’m both impressed and utterly horrified. Impressed by my ability to rationalize almost anything to myself in order to deny the truth. Good to know I’d make an excellent liar for a living. And horrified by what I have allowed fear to prevent me from for so many years. How does one even create these utterly irrational fears for themselves anyways? And why does one wish to limit themselves and all of the possibilities of their existence by giving way to their fears? I guess that’s the human experience, experiencing fear. But in acknowledging these fears and keeping it real with yourself in the face of them, they seem a little less and possibly a lot less fearful. I now feel not only compelled but obligated to reach my full potential in life. Because who honestly wants to grow old and look back on all of the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s that prevented them from being a whole lot of awesome.


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