This is going to be a short post, because I’m typing it on my phone (the poor thing held up to like 6 hours of nonstop use today, so I feel like I should give it a rest.) It will also be a short post because I don’t know if I have the right words to express what I want to say. But then again, when do I ever? 😉
Last semester ended on a generally positive note. Except for chemistry, I got straight B’s, which is quite an accomplishment for me. I got the lead role in a play, which was another of my long-term goals. I made new friends in the heat of battle (chemistry.) So there was really no reason why I should have been unhappy.
But I *was*. Deeply so. I was jealous and bitter and lonely, because it seemed like no matter how hard I worked to improve myself, everyone else was already doing so much better. Over break, I had a chance to refresh myself and take a semi-break from Facebook (the only reason I go on there is to check messages from people who insist on sending them rather than being reasonable and texting ;)) I realized something that makes a lot of sense in theory, but is very hard to actually practice.
It doesn’t matter if people have higher GPAs than me, or if they have better relationships and friendships, or if they are more talented artists, or if they are thinner and more attractive. What matters is how well I’m doing compared to my own past. I’ve spent so long – almost 22 years – trying to be the best at everything that I lost track of the art of living. When, this past semester, I was the best at nothing at all, I had no way out.
Early in the autumn, before the tests and projects started piling up, I got in the semi-habit of going running at the gym. There was one week where I ran every day. While I started out running because I hated my body and wanted to lose weight, even the few days I worked out made a significant difference in my quality of life. When I played basketball, I didn’t get exhausted in the first two minutes. I felt powerful and free.
People tell me that competition is a powerful motivator, but I know from experience that it is also destructive. An equally powerful motivator is what I’d call momentum, in which I run a little further every day, and score a little higher, and smile at people until I mean it.
My poetry professors often asked me, “What makes the poem move down the page?” In other words, what is its driving force, its purpose for existing? Sometimes the answer is as simple as the anticipation of the next word. One word at a time. One day at a time. Momentum.