Let me just start off my saying that I am not a fan of the word, “best.” My subconscious automatically sets me up for failure when I hear it. It’s a trigger word for all the things that could/should/will go wrong and therefore, it’s on my list of anti-adjectives, like moist and nice.
It may sound cynical, but having a “best friend” is a sure-fire set up for let down, without intention. “Do your best,” is an impossible yardstick of measurement given all the factors involved in actually setting anything into motion. “Try your best,” again, what does that even mean? “This is the best;” until something else is the best. “Best wishes,” for what? And the infamous, “You’re the best!”, what a standard to hang your hat on. But my absolute least favorite is, hands down, the whole self-centered culture of “Be your best self” and “Live your best life.”
I am guilty of using these sayings. A few weekends ago I mindlessly included the phrase “best life” in an Instagram post about my deep love of warm chips and bean dip. The intent seemed nice enough. (See what I did there?) Many people say them and have zero ill intentions, although one you reframe it, at least in my opinion, its hard to go back to the best world.
For example, I don’t know about you, but more often than not, I don’t even know what my “best self” looks or feels like. I am literally in it, moment to moment, day-to-day and feel like a floating entity; not even a “self.” If you are a mama, you get this. If you are a mama of multiple kiddos, you get this to another extent. If you work outside the home, or in the home, and have children, well then, hello, I /my floating entity is over here waving to you. Add to that a marriage, a house, and oh yeah, did I mention some of those kids of yours have some real legit struggles that you never talk about? Ok, maybe not never, you have a select few you feel okay telling some things to, but for the most part you smile and nod and sweep all that shit under the rug, just to be sure you trip, daily, over the lumps you created. Sounds familiar? It’s the best, right?
Wrong. This life is hard. It’s not what I imagined my life would be, let alone my best life. And watching everyone else on social media #bestlife does not make it any easier. I think for me personally it helps to think of this journey as unique to me, it is my life. I would rather live in a space of #messycontentment, #purposefulpeace and #abundantgratitude than the pressures implied by my best self/life.
As we evolve and grow, the best idea looks different, which makes it impossible to measure and so easy to second guess. Right now, at age thirty-seven, what is best for me is often illogical and sometimes contradicts living my life as my message. I love my children in a way that sucks the life out of me and sometimes what is best is spending time away from them. It may not match the family photo at Disney as best worthy and can seem cold to those who know I preach about togetherness. Your best may be taking some space and distance from someone who is supposed to represent the ideals of love and support. It may be going to bed at 7:30pm when everyone you deem as interesting is sipping their fancy drinks at the bar. Your best could be unflattering, it could mean saying no to something you want to do, or yes to something your squeamish about. It could be throwing in the towel after years of sacrifice and hard work; it could mean quitting. These things aren’t deemed photo worthy. And even scarier, your best can feel like the worst in the present moment.
Yesterday two of my daughters had auditions for the Arts Middle School. They were nervous and afraid of the idea of failure, resulting in not being accepted for a spot in their chosen art form. As we sat in the car for a moment before going in, I felt myself wanting to give them some encouraging words and almost, out of habit, said, “Just do your best.” I paused and thought about all the implications of that statement and instead told them, “Just be yourself. If it is a good match for you, it will work out. If not, we can look at some other options. Show your enthusiasm and excitement for the art you want to pursue and the person you are because and want to become in light of that.”
My wish for you, my friends, is the same. Just be yourself and share your light with the world. That is a decision you will never regret.
Love and Light,