During my primary school years, I have been told to “try my best” but it never stayed with me nor understand its true meaning. Well, probably young me used this as an excuse of not feeling like a failure. “You told me that as long as I do my best, and now this is it. That’s all you are going to get out of me because that’s my best. You better not judge me on that because you said as long as I do my best and that’s what I did.” This was my attitude towards subjects that I was not good at/there’s no definite answer to it (i.e. arts and creative writings).
I believed that I am not an artistic person. I am not good with drawing or creating something. That was not my trait. Although I started my own stories in my primary school, yet I am not creative in writing because I did not have any imagination. I can only see things that were real and I distanced myself from those imaginations and creativity.
I went to a self-development workshop mid-last year. This workshop did add few more words to “try my best”. This phrase now becomes “try my best to my best ability“. It shed the new lights in my life. Without words, this is something I did in my life, I tried my best to my best ability at that time. Funnily enough, I was so used to beat myself up because I was never confident to say that I did my best to my best ability. I guess, I was always fearful toward external judgement and if I received any criticism, I will label myself as a failure and never tried again.
After attending that self-development workshop, when my niece was still in her prep year (4-5 years old), we were doing an activity that she never tried before. Following is the exempt of our conversation.
Niece: I don’t want to do this.
Niece: Because I never tried this before.
Me: That’s okay. Have a go.
Niece: oh okay.
Me: Just try your best.
Niece: Yes. I will try my best to my best ability.
Me: wow. yes! YES!! That’s what I ask for!!
Niece: Yes. I can do that.
Me: Great! by the way, who told you that?
Niece: my (prep) teacher.
Me: She (prep teacher) is so wise. I just learn that recently as an adult! What a great teacher!!
Niece: I like her too!
What a wise teacher! I don’t know under what circumstance my niece been taught this phrase. All I know is that she have met a great teacher who told her that no matter what the outcome is, she should celebrate the journey as she tried it to her best ability.
As I was growing up, I see that I can do better, can aim higher, can do it better.
I judged myself and beat myself up even I know that I tried my best.
I was never satisfied with my results/outcomes because I know there are people who can do better than me.
I constantly compared myself with others and never gave myself any credit of what I have done or achieved.
Even when I received a compliment from others, I thought they were saying it so I can feel a bit better about work, life and myself.
I never praised myself, acknowledge myself, or accept myself.
I always felt that I am yet to be where I want to be. Having a status, or something I can proudly tell someone that this is what I’ve achieved.
I was seeking for external approval, in particular, approval from my parents.
I wanted to prove myself so I have a small reason to live on.
Taking advise from my friends, I started a list of what I can do now that I couldn’t do 5 years ago. I was amazed by the list of how many things I can and capable of doing now. Suddenly, all those days that I thought I was not progressing nor advancing become a priceless training ground, prepared me to the next phase of my life. All those training that I thought will not get me anywhere actually equipped me to compete and survive in the society.
Then, I finally acknowledged all the training I had, praised myself that I am capable to do so many things that others might not know how to do, and accept my current ability and benchmark with others are just a possibility that I have a potential to be like them if I choose to do so.
As someone once said to me:
If you decide not to waste anything in your life, nothing will be wasted whether it is materialistic thing, your knowledge or your experience. One day it will reveal itself to you why you had to learn that when you did.
Are you doing something to your best ability?
Are you spending your precious time to your best ability?
How are you celebrating your achievement today?