I've always considered myself competitive and maybe a little invincible. I grew up hearing that I could succeed at anything if I put my mind to it. I took that advice to heart. It became my ultimatum. I took on school and sports as a challenge and just expected myself to get better. Race times were expected to drop in running and skiing and for the most part they did. Play harder, run harder, work harder and you would win. Or if winning was out of sight than you would at least improve.
My theory was if I put in the effort I couldn't fail.
I ran most of my high school career using this theory. It wasn't that I thought I was especially better than anyone else, I just worked harder. Anyone could have done it, and many did, because in my mind success was accomplished purely through dedication.
Dedication was one subject I had heard preached over and over again. Whether at home or school or in sports someone was always telling me to "Give a 100 percent" or "Give it your all" or "Do your best, it's all we can ask from you." These people: coaches, teachers, and parents all seemed to be right and they were for a long time. If I studied for the test I did well. If I ran hard at practice my next race was faster.
Except eventually I reached a point where I didn't have anything else to give. A 100 percent now looked like 75 present or less. The studying I used to do in an hour now took two. I've had the same ongoing cold for months. I had physically and mentally worn myself out and I wasn't sure what to do about it.
Looking back the answer seems obvious, to simply back off and slow down. Yet somehow I missed it. Running had taught me that pushing through the pain (metaphorically this time) was the only way to make it better. It took me a while to realize it but that method wasn't working. The more effort I put in to whatever I did the less I seemed to get done. My fool proof theory had failed.
I haven't exactly figured out what to do next. Being competitive or active is good, but only to a point. I've reached that point and realized that I'm not as invincible as I think I am. So I'm taking a mental step back.
I'm choosing more carefully what I put my effort into. Trying to decide what's important to me and what isn't worth the worry.
I can still succeed at anything I put my mind too, I just have to choose fewer ultimatums.
This column is the opinion of Carol Clonan, a senior at Skyview High School.
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