I am my biggest enemy. I’m guessing you might be yours, too? Since I can remember, I’ve always been competitive. I have always pushed myself to be the best I can be at whatever I’m doing. Dancer, student, ice cream sandwich maker…you name it. Some people miiiight call it perfectionism. I just always assumed perfect was the only right way.
I’m happy to announce I was wrong.
I’ve got a lot to say about giving your all, but that will come later. This post is about knowing when it’s okay to quit.
The ugly truth is, lots of things we do are hard. Lots of things we do are things we don’t actually want to be doing but we have to. But then, there are those things we do simply for pleasure…and those things don’t have to be so hard.
I have always wanted to surf. Watching surfers play in the waves, I always likened surfing to dancing on water. Last year, I took a hiatus from the boat to finally take the plunge and dive into surfing. I spent two months in Indonesia learning how to navigate my way around a wave in a completely different way. Along the way, a dear friend, knowing my perfectionist nature, gave me advice that has actually changed my life. “Gina, the second you start getting frustrated, get out of the water. Your only goal in surfing is to have fun. When you’re not, get out. Stop before you stop loving it.”
Simple, but true. It’s against my nature. All my life, I’ve followed the same pattern. Go hard or go home, sort of thing. If I failed, I got up again and again and again, pushing myself to my limits until I “got it.” I used to practically live in the library in college. Pillow and all. I just wanted to be the best, I just wanted to “get it.” Well, the end result was a beat-up, exhausted, ironically less confident and less happy version of myself. Yeah, I finally got it. But it didn’t FEEL GOOD getting there.
Have you been in my shoes? Aching for perfection until it actually kind of hurts? Do yourself a favor and take this advice: stop before you stop having fun. In whatever your thing is. Just enjoy the ride!
I’m far from being the surfer I dream of being. I get my ass handed to me regularly. But I love it. I smile until my face hurts. Sometimes I stay in the water for hours, sometimes I bail after 10 minutes. If I’m frustrated, I get out. I stop before it stops feeling good, because, after all, the only reason I’m doing it is to have fun. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?