Have you ever felt like people keep talking about this idea of being more, doing more, wanting more from life, not settling, going after your dreams and so on and so forth? And the more they talk about it, the more defensive and stressed out you get! I’ve totally been there! Recently, I’ve had a different approach to the idea. This being said, I had it brought to my attention that a quote I posted this week on Instagram could have been misleading. The quote was:
“Raise your standard or live a standard life.” -Nick Long
The concern expressed with this quote was that people should never have to feel like there is something wrong with a standard life. Furthermore, it was made clear to me that ideologies like this may play a part in making people insecure/feel as though they aren’t enough. So, I want to speak to this and how I interpret Nick’s quote.
Maybe you read the quote or another like it and thought, Screw you for telling me I’m not enough or for trying to make me think my standard life is inadequate. I start by saying sorry because I truly don’t believe these life philosophies are intended to offend anyone, and I know for damn sure that’s not what I meant by it. Next, I ask what a “standard life” means to you?
To me, a standard life is one that is stagnant and remains unchanged. The online definition of standard is something that is accepted as average and consistent. A standard life looks like a waiting pool alongside a river. The river is life, flowing and constantly morphing. A standard life is the still body of water that never cares to jump into life and explore. Though I must point out that we don’t all jump into the same river or the same spot in said stream. Furthermore, we are each going to have a different journey in the rapid, magnificent waters. But why would you want to give up on yourself and say That’s it! That’s all I got! This is the forever me! The idea of not living an average life is about simply wanting to be a better version of yourself and not settle on the idea that who you are today is who you are going to be for the rest of your life!
Let’s look at my parents. My dad works in construction and my mom was a stay at home mom for most of my life. We live in an average size home in small-town Monroe, Washington. You could look at the way I grew up as being pretty damn average. But let me tell you, it wasn’t. My parents’ idea of raising their standard, was to be ever-evolving parents. Boy did they succeed. My dad wakes up far before the sun rises every morning to go to work. I can count on one hand the days he’s skipped. After long days at work, he tried to always come home with a smile and make us laugh. This unbelievable man is kind and gentle and works to show my sister and me how we deserve to be treated. He is respectful, patient, understanding, and always wanting to be involved. My dad works his ass off to provide for our family. He continuously raises his standards to become a better dad and husband than he was yesterday.
Now, onto my mom. I could text this incredible woman in the middle of the night because there was a spider in the bathroom and she would be there. My mom will sit on the phone for hours with my sister and me if we just need to simply feel her comforting presence. She woke up early every morning to send my sister and me off to school with breakfast and a homemade lunch, drove us to school, counsels us still today, and will drop everything in a second to be there. This woman has been through hell and back, yet is the strongest, most empathetic person I know. My mom is constantly raising her standards to work on being a better mother and wife than she was yesterday.
My parents read books, went to counseling, listened to tapes, admit their wrongdoings, and find any and every way to deepen their knowledge about being parents. They are actively striving to improve upon themselves today. Mom and dad, you are far from stagnant parents. Thank you for always raising your standards. If it weren’t for you constantly wanting to better your parenting skills, I have no idea where I would be.
Does this mean I don’t look at them today and think they’re incredible just the way they are? Absolutely not. But the fun in life is raising your standard every day to keep working to be a little better. There’s no destination in this scenario, rather it’s a privilege we get as humans to be conscious of our actions and cognitions and to pursue our ideas of more. Maybe you want to a better teacher so you go to conferences, a better coach so you watch more games, a better friend so you listen more, a better student so you study, a better musician so you practice, or a better individual so you spend some time getting to know yourself. It’s not about beating yourself up and bending backwards to be perfect. Your passions and ambitions may even change. It looks different for everyone. We are always changing, stretching, growing, and shifting.
You will never reach a state of perfection, for it does not exist. Why tell yourself you’re okay just being who you are today for the rest of your life? Don’t limit yourself like that! You’re too fucking amazing! Raising your standard is accepting the beauty in your imperfection while reading, learning, exploring, and stepping outside of your comfort zone to enhance your experience as a human being. That, my friends, is raising your standard.