I think I care more than the average person about what people think of me. I can’t say for sure because I’ve never been the average person. I’ve only been me.
We live in a society of bests. We want to feel like we’re the best and for everyone else to think so too. So many are obsessed with being the best artist, the best writer, the best actor, the best singer. People always want to give their kids the best and help them be the best in every activity. In the LDS church so many of us are, either consciously or not, trying to be the best disciple. Or bishop. Or missionary. Or homemaker. Or relief society teacher. And it’s not because we’re prideful jerks trying to outdo each other-its because we’ve had this idea pounded into us that anything less than the best is failure.
But the poison in this best-obsessed behavior is that only one person can be the best- Jesus. In comparison to Him we are all losers. And odds are there’s another mortal who’s better than us at something, too. The reality is that most of the things we do in this life will be average.
“[The fact is] most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. …”
President Hinkley quoted that and even though it sounds like a downer it’s true. And liberating. We’re not going to have or be the best in this life, so we might as well give ourselves a break and stop reaching for this unattainable thing. And we know that this life isn’t the end. I believe that we will have all of the best in the Celestial Kingdom if we’ve endured well our less-than-the-best lives and tried really hard to be good and always repented.
*Semi unrelated tangent- I remember asking my mission president once, “People are always telling me to do my best and that’s enough. But how do I know what my best is?” I would come home every night feeling like I could have done better, biked faster, prayed harder, testified more. Then I would be overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame because I wasn’t the best missionary. But my wise president counseled me, “Sister Jensen, do your best effort.” I’m still in the process of letting that sink in and understanding it, but I do believe that God is happy with us when we’re trying. He cheers every time we take a single step forward, and He forgives every step backward if we sincerely repent.
Okay now back to my main point- we need to, like Al Carraway says “stop thinking perfect is a thing.” And stop thinking best is a thing. And start accepting ourselves for who we are. To be honest, I haven’t written a blog post in a while because I have been doubting myself. When I realized that I can’t reach millions of people or write perfect posts or have every joke I make be funny I was discouraged. I wanted to quit because people might not like what I have to say or even read it. Satan likes to tell us that if we can’t be the best we should just not try. But I decided today to challenge that thought. You might not read this, but I’m going to write it anyway.
Because I’m deciding now to try and live independent of what people think. I’m going to write things no one will read. I’m going to stop choosing what I tell people about myself based on how I think they will perceive me. I’m going to practice living uncertain and doing things outside of my comfort zone because that’s what The Person I Want to Be would do. And I might be just okay at all of those things or I might completely suck at them. But I’ll enjoy the ride and grow as a person until I eventually reach exaltation and then I’ll experience what real best feels like.
If you are reading this, what things are you not doing because you’re afraid of not being the best? What things are you doing in an exhaustive effort to be the best?
Come join the Joyfully Average movement with me (that’s a thing I made up just now) and let me know what things you’re doing to embrace imperfection (mine’s going to be brush lettering-stay tuned for some free, super imperfect printables 🙂