Something to prove…or not

For so long, I have been living my life as if I had something to prove.
Prove I was smart enough, good enough.
Prove I could do as well as – or better than – my school classmates.
Prove that other people’s assumptions of me were wrong.
Prove that my quiet demeanor and sensitivity weren’t all of me, that I could be more, do more.

I was trying to demonstrate all of these things to others. I overheard the questions, “how will she manage in the future?” I have heard comments from peers that sounded condescending. I saw my teachers’ surprise when I exceeded their expectations:  my grades on papers and tests were higher than my amount of active participation, so they often didn’t realize what I knew before that point.

I took others’ questions and doubts to heart. I believed I had something to prove to myself, too.

Now, I realize it takes a lot of effort and energy to prove what I’m capable of. On one hand, there was a sense of urgency to proving myself that drove me to excel. On the other hand, it was exhausting. In the end, I still often do well when I do things on my own terms, at my own pace.

As I learn more about myself, I realize my approach to learning and being may sometimes deviate from the norm. I know I am intelligent; I react strongly to intense stimuli; that sometimes I need more time to process a piece of information before voicing an opinion. While sometimes I may need to show someone else what I know in a personal or professional situation, I don’t want it to be about proving something to myself or them.

I catch myself in this long imbued thought pattern on a regular basis. I have realized I don’t want to measure myself against standards that may not work for me anyway.

I know now: I don’t have to strive so hard to prove myself to others, or to myself. I don’t have to prove anyone else wrong if they have an inaccurate or different opinion about me. I can choose where to put my energy, and acknowledge my talents and limitations as I work towards my goals.

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