To the Person Who is All-or-Nothing

Lexington, Massachusetts

Lexington, Massachusetts

To the Person Who’s All-or-Nothing:

I was never the “glass half full” kind of person.

I either got everything or I got nothing.

First place, 100%, top of my class, Summa Cum Laude, and any other type of arbitrary subjective ranking system out there—I had to come first.

At the time I believed that I was a goal-setter, and I’m sure it started out that way.

Eventually I developed this mentality that I had to be consistently successful at everything, all the time, every day.

But what it meant to be “successful” had an ever-changing definition.

For example:

A goal to get A on the next exam became an A on every exam. Then it turned into an A on every exam for all subjects and the bar of what it meant to be “successful” just kept rising.

I either got a 100% or I failed.

I either got 1st place or nothing.

I either achieved my version of success or felt completely unsatisfied from lack of validation.

My all-or-nothing attitude turned into glass half-empty or glass why-fill-it-at-all.

But by doing so I let all the small accomplishments pass me by. I missed the journey, didn’t care about the stepping stones, and just wanted to get to the prize.

I was always running trying to get somewhere that I never realized where I was.

I never took the time to appreciate not just everything around me but myself.

I wasn’t doing myself justice by not acknowledging all the work I put in.

I turned my goals into requirements. Making them something I had to do, not wanted to do.

By doing that I took out the meaning behind the things that I strived to achieve in the name of “success” to achieve external validation.

But was I happy?

In societal terms, yes. Since the unit of measurement for happiness in our society is lined with external rewards. How could I not be happy when I had everything that society told me would make me successful?

So what’s the problem? I never looked inward. I pursued society's definition of success and never made one of my own.

Why does happiness come second to success? Why does our own self-image take a backseat to our societal image? Why do so many of us put ourselves second to everything that must come first?

I found that a lasting sense of happiness cannot be achieved unless we acknowledge our efforts throughout the whole process and allow ourselves to be present.

Everything that you do is not a “have to” but a “want to.”

We continue to work hard and put all of our time, energy, and brain power into our goals that are self-created and in all honesty, we don’t have to do any of that.

But we choose to.

Every single day.

And that’s what makes human beings so damn amazing.

So let’s take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate who we are, where we are, and how we got there.

Acknowledge everything—small wins, big wins, setbacks, steps forward, steps backward—everything that takes part in your journey from Point A to Point infinity.

Because when we do that we are hitting the pause button on our very busy lives and taking a moment for ourselves to acknowledge the creation of who we are today.

And we’re pretty great.