We feel the adrenaline pumping through our veins. We’re ready to race, lacing our shoes on the starting line, waiting for the whistle, and feeling our hearts thumping out of our chests.
“I need to win,” you tell yourself.
You replay the race in your head at first. As soon as the whistle blows, you run as fast as you can, hoping to reach first place. Or maybe second, because it’s “the next best.” Or maybe third, because you’ll end up with a golden chest.
Then, your mind wanders off to strange scenarios in your head.
You see three people running past you – now they’re ahead. Then, you see four people slide ahead of you. Tears fill your eyes as you get further away from winning that medal. But now you’re in at least eighth place, perhaps not standing a chance.
In life, we have experienced many of these races, even if we’re not a trackstar. We see other people passing us, whether they are completing their programs, getting the promotions they want, or having a group of close friends to hang out with. Because of how society is, we are forced to run ahead of the game in terms of our social, academic, and career lives. As a result, we find ourselves trying too hard at work, networking and socializing too much after work, and juggling too many responsibilities we can’t handle.
Our minds tell us to stop, but our hearts tell us to go on. To grind. Work hard. But we can’t stop thinking we’re behind in this race. So, what do we do?
We fast track and take shortcuts.
We decided to apply for a new job to feel more productive. We enroll in a new program to occupy our time with completing assignments and tasks. We add more onto our plate in hopes of feeling accomplished.
But the truth is, our hearts are not fully into what we decided to do next. We may start feeling the effects of burnout sooner than later. And because of extenuating circumstances, we may find ourselves back in square one.
The reality with anything in life, including a race, is that shortcuts are impossible and often lead to negative outcomes.
Think of the track. While you’re picturing what happens if you’re in eighth place, the reality is that you probably can’t picture what it’s like to take a shortcut. If you decide to take an alternate path, you’ll be disqualified immediately.
In all aspects of life, you cannot fast-track your success. Wherever you are is the place where you should be. A better prize is waiting for you at the end of the long, arduous journey. While you cannot change your current circumstances at the moment, you can focus on yourself and perform the best to your own abilities.
When you’re on the track and stop picturing the negative scenarios, the race will not feel like a race to you anymore. It will feel like a journey instead, one where you follow your own beliefs and passions. You will be able to enjoy every moment and value every learning opportunity.
And just as you think of that, the announcer drops the whistle.
“No race today,” they say.
Photo by Richard Stachmann on Unsplash