Catching Up

Personal Growth

I was out sick for over a week my freshman year of high school.

I was worried about all the classes and activities I was missing. Track practice. The biology test. The lines I was supposed to have memorized for the school play.

The day I got back to school, my math teacher gave me some important advice I wouldn’t understand until much later:

You’ll never catch up. And that’s okay.

Many of us spend our lives in a perpetual state of rushing. In the quest to have it all, we feel behind at work, behind with our families, behind in our commitments to our partner.

We have a laundry list of errands and personal project we’ll never even start: ill-fitting clothes we need to return, articles we plan to write, or home improvements we hope to make. Deep down we feel anxious that we’re not getting these things done.

To some extent, this is normal and healthy. It’s good to have high standards for yourself. It’s good to want to do better.

But we often measure ourselves by the impossible yardstick of the best people we know—in person or online—in every category.

This doesn’t scale. The truth is, to be our best selves, we need to decide that we don’t care about some things very much. We need to focus on the few things that matter to us.

We’ll never catch up on everything. Not only is that okay, it’s actually a good thing. Being behind in one area is the only thing that lets us be ahead somewhere else.