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Stop Being So Hard On Yourself

It was 2 a.m. and I couldn’t sleep. Granted, my team and I had just won a national championship a few hours earlier, but I knew that wasn’t the reason for my restlessness.

I was upset at myself for losing my individual match because I felt like I didn’t contribute enough to our victory. Obviously, I was ecstatic that our team had just won what we had been working three years to get, but there was a feeling inside of me that just wasn’t satisfied. I felt like I hadn’t done my part.

I should have done better.

Now, most people would straight up laugh at me if I told them that. Or, they would think that I was being ungrateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that just occurred. And, maybe I was a little.

Believe me, I am embarrassed just admitting that I felt that way now. I didn’t want to feel that way, but I did. While I kept reminding myself to enjoy the journey and cherish every moment, the fierce competitor in me wouldn’t stop telling me that it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough. My effort wasn’t enough.

That’s just one example in my life where my inner competitor hurt me by speaking contrary to what Jesus wanted to tell me.

Maybe you don’t relate, or maybe you do. But I know as a top Division I athlete, who aspires to play professionally after college, that I am extremely hard on myself. So much so, it can hurt me at times. My biggest challenges are trying not to overthink things and not overwork.

Relatable Much?

Maybe you aren’t an athlete. If so, maybe there is another aspect of your life that you are constantly pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion. I know a lot of people are like that with school. Some people are like that with work or relationships. Whatever it is, you are constantly evaluating your performance and it’s never good enough because you want to do better.

It leaves me wondering, why? Why can’t we be happy with our results and performance and be thankful for what we have? Call it overachieving, perfectionism or the pursuit of greatness, but I believe we feel like that when we judge our performances by the world’s standards.

The world tells us that we need to do everything perfect for people to think highly of us and feel satisfied with ourselves. As athletes, we are constantly taught to never be satisfied, but keep reaching and striving for our dreams. When we get there, we need to set new goals. And that’s healthy. That’s how we improve and get better.

Josie Kuhlman forehand-swinging at a tennis ball.
Photo Courtesy of UAA Communications / Photo by Madison Ross.

But, you can’t let your results define you as a person or you will feel like you are only worth how great your performance was. I think all the athletes and overachievers and people who are hard on themselves out there like me need to remember this simple message:

No matter what we do, we will never be enough for the world. But we are enough for Jesus, right now as we are. He, in His unending mercy, loves us whether we succeed or not.

That should comfort us and make us realize that it really doesn’t matter how we perform at all.

It’s funny because, while that message is nothing new to me (and it probably isn’t to you either), my human nature still reverts back to harmful ways of judging my performances by worldly standards. The competitive nature in me wants to compare myself to others, always striving to do better than the person next to me.

A year ago, I vowed I would never worry about what other people think about me or my performances. I told myself I wouldn’t compare myself to others because it really didn’t matter. And, I was doing so well with it. But, there we were after winning a freaking national championship and I was upset that I didn’t do a better job. For Pete’s sake! What more could I ask for?

One of my favorite quotes that never fails to put things into perspective goes like this:

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.” – St. Gianna Molla

Everything that we are given is a gift from God. Our human nature will tell us to want more in every situation, but it is our job as Christians, when we get that temptation, to stop and just be thankful where we are right here and now. We are so blessed. Yet, we forget to look around and see our blessings. We are too focused on trying to get more.

A Little Perspective

Jesus loves you and me right here and now, and that in itself is more than anything else we could ask for. Sometimes, when I start worrying about things of this world, I remind myself of that and I realize, none of this actually matters! I could lose everything in my life that I love, but I would still have nothing to fear because I would have Christ. And, my happiness and joy lies in that.

So this is me, just reminding you, from one stubborn overachiever to the next, to take time to be thankful today and remember that you are enough. You are enough for Him, so be enough for yourself.

-Josie Kuhlman

Josie Kuhlman played NCAA Division I Tennis at the University of Florida from 2014-2018, where she won a national championship. She is currently pursuing a career in professional tennis.

To read more content from Josie, visit her blog Beautiful Depths.

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