Ever noticed how many times you say the words ‘just’ or ‘only’? Probably not. If you started tallying them up, you’d probably notice just how often these seemingly harmless words are used in every day conversation.I’m one of the worst culprits, whether it’s about where I live (“we’re only renting”) to the job that I do (“I just work in marketing.”) It even filters into the inconsequential things I do from day to day – from ‘only’ managing to run 3 kilometres on the treadmill to ‘just’ making a meal for my family from scratch. Of course, I’m selling myself short. In justifying life’s little wins as ‘just’ and ‘onlys’, I’m telling myself and everyone around me that what I’m doing isn’t good enough.
Like most my age, I grew up lucky enough to think I could do just about anything (within reason.) We were going to be the generation with an endless amount of choice and opportunity, a group of young people that could choose to go travelling, attend university, work in creative-led jobs, live in exotic locations. With thanks to reality television, we even have the chance to meet Simon Cowell or win the Great British Bake Off. As Spiderman says however, ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’ and the power of opportunity can often have a negative impact too. Which is perhaps why I’m often found wondering if I’m good enough.
Thing is, having choices means that you begin to learn what’s ‘good enough’ for you. For some, that means battling tube trains each morning to a high-powered career in the city and make your fortune. For others, it manifests itself in packing a bag and heading around the globe to make plenty of memories to share around the Nursing Home camp fire. Others are happier celebrating the little things – passing a driving test, getting a new tattoo or reading a particularly life-changing book.
We’re not all marathon runners or award-winning bloggers or future CEOs, but you know what? That’s ok. Success doesn’t always have to be measured against someone else and you don’t always have to be the very best in every aspect of your life. Running two miles and not a marathon doesn’t make you a failure – it makes you a short distance runner. If your blog gets 20 views instead of 20,000, it doesn’t make you any less of a writer. Some people won’t be Managing Director by the time they’re 45 and some won’t even know what they want to do with their lives when they’re 45 – that’s ok too.
It is here that I think its only wise to think about the advice you were probably given by your parents or teachers on your first school sports day. Back when I was five and running with a beanbag on my head was considered on par with an olympic sport, it seemed that all kids were told the same: “It’s not the winning that matters. It’s the taking part.” A few words that I’m sure can easily serve as a metaphor for life. And with that, it’s time to focus on what being ‘good enough’ means to you. You know what? It doesn’t even matter if you drop the bean bag.