I Will Never Be Good Enough: A Moment with Bill Reflection
Sit back, relax, and let me tell you a story.
When I was a junior in high school I qualified for the state junior bowling tournament. For those of us who bowled religiously, this was a big deal. We had to qualify out of some 2,000 bowlers even to make it to the state tournament, and then we had to compete with 250 others once we had qualified.
It was a weekend-long tournament in Yakima, a city on the eastern side of Washington about 180 miles from my hometown, so our district bowlers were poured into several cars and we made the trip to the tournament.
I remember being quite nervous. I remember thinking I didn’t have a chance of placing well in the tournament. I remember hoping that I just didn’t embarrass myself.
I bowled a 632 series that weekend, the highest series I had ever bowled, and I came in 2nd in the state of Washington. I was given a huge trophy proclaiming me to be the second best junior bowler for 1965.
The ride back home was all pats on the back and congratulations, Bill, and man alive, you were great….and I smiled, and laughed, and thanked one and all for the kind words, while thinking to myself that I should have done better. I could picture in my mind the three balls I had rolled that cost me the tournament and kept me from winning it all, and I was so very disappointed in my performance.
I could have done better.
Another Story…isn’t This Fun?
I sort of flew under the radar in high school baseball. I was a pitcher on a high school team that won the state title my senior year, and although I was certainly not the best pitcher on the team (that honor would go to Craig Hilden, who was later drafted by Houston), I was good enough to move on and pitch in college.
By my sophomore year in college I was on the varsity, and I had a good year then and the following junior year, and then I blew out my arm and never pitched again.
As a college athlete, I was in a very select group. Only one percent of organized sports athletes go on to play at the college level. One percent!
I should have done better.
Oh, the Silliness of Youth, Right?
As a teacher, three times I was nominated as one of America’s best teachers. How many teachers are there in this country? I was chosen as one of the top one hundred teachers in the country…stop and think about what an honor that was….and I should have done better. Still to this day I will hear from many of my former students, telling me what a huge influence I was on their lives…and all I can think about are the students I couldn’t save or help.
I should have done a better job of teaching.
Today I am a writer, and in the past three years I have written two novels and over two-thousand articles, several of which have been published in magazines. Less than one percent of the world’s population has done what I have done as a writer…..
I just finished my second novel, “Resurrecting Tobias.” It will be published in the next week or so.
I am already telling myself that I could have done a better job on that novel, and it isn’t even published yet.
Please Understand This Point
I do not tell you of my accomplishments out of ego. Those who really know me do not associate “ego” with Bill Holland. I rarely talk about accomplishments, and I really don’t spend much time with people who do toot their own horn.
Still, one has to see the whole person, to at least partially understand what makes him/her tick.
I was a single parent, and I raised a wonderful human being, but I could have been better.
I have climbed and stood atop four major mountains, but I should have climbed higher mountains.
I was a brown belt in karate, but I’ll always regret not being a black belt.
And on and on we go.
It is exhausting being me.
And it is unfulfilling….always!
What Are the Ramifications?
Other than being psychologically exhausting, it is aggravating to the max.
I am never satisfied with my performance. I am never able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor, because no matter how good the results might be, they are never as good as they should have been.
I shudder when people give me praise because I know, if they knew just how much better I could have done, they would not praise me.
People think I am ultra-focused. “My God, Bill,” they say. “How do you stay on task so well? How do you continue to pour out the mountains of words day in and day out?”
Folks, I’m not focused….I’m driven to meet a standard I never will meet….perfection.
I seek the holy grail that will forever be out of my reach, because no matter how well I do, I will never see it as good enough.
Do you have similar feelings?
What Do I Seek, Then?
Well, I’m not looking for a group hug. I do not write this for sympathy, and I’m not into self-help placebos that will make me feel better for five minutes.
No, I write this because I suspect, and I’m fairly certain I am right about this, that there are many of you out there who feel exactly the same. Hopefully, by telling my story, you will realize that you are not alone.
Let me tell you a secret: most of us are screwed up psychologically and emotionally.
There, the cat is now out of the bag.
The longer I live the more I realize that most human beings have built their psychological homes upon foundations made of quick sand.
Oh sure, we strut around displaying our plumage and acting like we don’t have a care in the world, but that is all just the posturing of frightened little children who have grown into adults. We still whistle in the dark to announce to the boogy man that we are approaching. We all build towering monuments of apparent self-confidence that have cracks in the substructure. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Be honest. You know it is true.
What Can We Do About It?
As my dad was fond of saying, keep moving forward!
The first step is awareness. How can we fix that which is broken if we are unaware?
The second step is acceptance. We will never be perfect, so the sooner we give up that quest the better.
The third step is self-love. Do not reserve self-love for those moments when perfection is attained, but rather dole it out in large doses for just being willing to fight the good fight.
That is the sum total of my knowledge about this topic.
Consider the words of Tennyson from his work “Ulysses:”
“That which we are, we are.
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate
But strong of will.
To strive, to seek, to find,
And not to yield.”
So I keep trudging forward, as do all of you. I will never be the perfect Bill Holland, but I can be a pretty damn good Bill Holland on any given day, and that will have to be good enough.
I’m going to end now and give myself a pat on the back for a job well-done today.
I suggest you do the same.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)