Be Your Best Self

by Melanie on July 8, 2017

in Affirmations, Catholicism, Going 60 MPH, Memoir, Nonfiction, Spirituality

An occasional series based on stuff that hangs in my room… or my heart.

I put way too much pressure on myself to be 150% all the time. It’s not exactly a competitive thing; I don’t have to be the best cook, the best writer, the most knowledgeable about 1970s rock and pop, but I do tend to expect that I will always give the most I can to every single solitary thing I do and excel at it, regardless of how others are doing. That can be a problem.

I think about the times that I did things with little expectation other than seeking and enjoying, and I smile. When I lived in Chicago, I took a couple of short-term adult education courses in Italian and Russian because my husband and I had trips planned to those countries. At the first sessions, it turned out my classmates included people whose parents or spouses were immigrants, who had the opportunity to converse daily, even hourly in those languages, and who already had a fair grasp of the language structures. Strangely for me, I never thought about quitting either class; I just decided it was all right that I was just there to pick up 200 critical words before the trips. And when I let go of my expectation that I’d be as good as the others, I found freedom.

I’ve had much the same experience in my parish’s women’s Bible study. I love learning about the interconnection of the Old and New Testament, the circumstances under which scripture was written, and the meaning in our lives today of words written thousands of years ago. I knew going in that I wouldn’t be the most educated of those taking the program–those converts know more about the Bible than almost any cradle or revert Catholic–but I figured I’d learn a lot and make some new like-minded friends. I was right on both counts.

And so, I’ve come to understand that being my best self means being curious and open to learning, not putting pressure on myself to be at the head of the class for everything. It means listening to God, and surrendering to His will. Being my best self is pleasing to the Lord, and when He’s happy, I am at peace.

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