You know, I'm always amazed at how I continue to learn things about myself. You'd think that after 43 years on the planet, I'd have figured me out. And I HAVE figured out a lot of things, but it seems that there's always something new.
Throughout my life I've been very competetive. I always wanted to be the best at everything I did. And I was. I was on the honour roll, I was first flute in band, I did well at a lot of different things. When I got into the larger world and started to fail (as one will), it was a big shock to me. So I think I pushed myself to do things that showed me to be different. I chose a job that would make people say "wow" (I also loved the work, but the status of the name was something I relished). I went on adventures and pushed myself beyond what was comfortable. I was trying to prove something - but to whom? Myself? My parents? The World? I don't know. But I pushed myself. Sometimes over the brink ... but I didn't realize it.
I'm now starting to recognize that pushing myself that far past my comfort zone wasn't necessarily the best thing for my mental health. The big clue was Monday night at the Bag It showing when I got so terribly worked up over just talking to a group of 60 people for 3 minutes. It affected my life for at least 4 days. Lack of sleep, anxiety, etc. It wasn't horrible, just not great, but I would have gotten more done in life had I simply chosen not to speak at the showing.
And then, at choir practice last night, I realized something else. I love to sing. And I know I have a decent voice. And the competetive person inside of me really wants to be a solo artist belting it out up there on my own so as to get the praise of the crowd. But I also know that when I get up in front of a group of people, the anxiety is insane and I don't sing nearly as well as I do in the shower. So maybe I'm better off just being part of the chorus. At least until I have more experience and confidence under my belt. I really don't need to prove myself to anyone. I'm a great person and it doesn't matter if I'm not the star of the show. I am still a decent flute player, so I'm going to play a small solo in one piece. I'm also one of three soloists in a group for another song and I think I sound okay - and in a group it's less obvious if you totally screw up. So Madam Competetive will just have to be satisfied with that, while Miss Anxiety will hopefully be kept more calm.
There's a lesson here. And it's that great lesson that keeps coming back into my life again and again: BALANCE. Life is about balance. It is about getting the most out of what you do while not killing yourself in the act of it all. And I do believe that as I get older, I have less tolerance for the anxiety and less drive to be the best at everything. I'm good at what I do. I'm a good writer, I'm a good researcher, I'm a good flute player ... and for now I'm good in the chorus.