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The Best or Good At It?

This is going to be fun. It is a jetlagged response to one of my favorite people on the planet :joy:. Mark Thompson, a very talented and kind human I have the honor of calling my big brother, who asked this question a few weeks ago.

It immediately sparked a jumble of thoughts that a tweet would not capture properly, so I said I’d come back to it. Between Mark’s tweet and the writing of this post, a lot of things happened that added spice to my intellectual horizons enough to affect the response I was going to give. It got even longer - so a blog post it is!

TLDR; It depends :grimacing:

So you should know this before diving in. I’m not concise. If I was, this could’ve been a tweet. But I’ll try and summarize what it depends means here. What it is is - it depends on what you’re trying to optimize for in the seasons of your life. Life is a collection of seasons - the first of which you have nothing to do with. You get here without your own doing, and can’t choose how and who gets you here or where you end up. Your world view forms mostly from your surroundings. IF you are lucky, this changes at some point - you may get the opportunity to learn new things and venture to go out into the world (and by this I just mean outside your bubble - traveling outside your hometown is a priviledge) and learn about how other people see things. If you are even luckier, be it because of a career, companionship, or whatever :shrug:, you might be able to define what you want life to be like.

In all these seasons - some of which may circle the block, you may see how you fit in your world differently. That in turn means that your definition of competition will evolve as the seasons change. Some seasons, you may be forming an opinion of yourself and using the input of competition against others to define a point of reference. Other seasons, you’re just trying to recover from the adventure that is life, so you are competing against time. And then there is those of you who have gotten to defining standards, and you keep “competing” with different versions of yourself. Now me personally, I’m a journey person. The destination is death - so most of the time its Sia v Sia.

Now to answer Mark’s question directly

I’d love to be somewhere between Mariah Carey and Jessie Reyez - not the music, but the sentiments (but also the music because I mean can you imagine a baby of those two?!)

a GIF of a drunk woman saying "imma do the best I can with what I got" into a microphone. That woman is the legendary Mariah Carey

Sometimes, life is a trip. And like Mariah having a time in that bar with that DJ - all you can do is your best. Because if you did all you could with what you knew, and to the best of your abilities at any given point in time, then that is the best you could give. And that was the best version of you in that moment. Now that doesn’t mean we always end there. Because like Maya Angelou said “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

But how do you know better? That’s where you start to go beyond what the world gave you and start exploring for yourself. There may be things you have to learn. You likely have to figure out what you want to keep from your natural (or first) environment, what you need to unlearn, and how you learn best. One of my grandpas said to me once: college is where you go to learn how to learn. The “what” part is up to YOU! At the point where you figure out how you’ll evolve, you are developing standards and on your way to doing a Jessie Reyez! And what does my corny self mean by this? :point_down:

Jessie has this song - “Great One” - linked above. And this is the first verse. Tell me if you’ve felt this way before about your life and ambition. I know you have!

:musical_note: :musical_note: I wanna be a great one
I wanna be a great one
I wanna make a million dollars
Making all my days count
Clowning with my day ones
Before, I hid the grey sun
Louis V, don’t chase none
I wanna make a billion dollars
Bring it to my pops
Say, “Daddy what you prayed for” :musical_note: :musical_note:

When you are driven to do and get it all - you may be chasing things, dreams, proving people wrong, trying to prove oneself as credible, be “a first” etc. Some of this has to do with how others see us (back to that where we come from and are molded stuff), even if we didn’t intend it to be that way. We have benchmarks based on what has already happened, what achievements have been had (or not), and what ones we can exceed to be the next standard. An example of how we live by these measures in the real world is when we hear the (very applicable and true) statement that “Black people have to work twice as hard to get half as much <”insert thing here>. The “twice as hard” and “half as much” are metrics - in competition with entities outside of self. And folks have achieved mountains of greatness off the strength of this sentiment! I’m grateful to know some of them in my lifetime.

So where does that leave us?

While I love ambition and have embraced that about myself since I was a teen, I also want to give myself some grace as I move in life. My hope is that I’m driven by the reflection of me I want to see in the world, and not always the mirror that is other people’s view of me. Easier said than done :bangbang:. I value my community and work to maintain it by making sure they know how much they add to my human experience and in some direct ways, make me want to stay alive and leave the world better than I found it. But it is not a blind trust. It is work. The same work I am applying to myself. I have a long way to go to find this balance between wanting to be great and doing the best I can to achieve that based on (the ever-evolving) standards I define for myself from observing the world around me, learning, unlearning, bla bla bla - you get the idea.

It will likely never just be based on my view of the world. There will be influences from my favorite humans and inspiring achievers (insert the person who asked this question on that list here!), but we shall see. So that’s it. I’m going to keep doing what I can with what I got to be the best version of myself I can be - for me and those around me. That’s my current definition of “The Best”, Mark. Sorry for the long road there :joy:

Until next time, thanks for indulging this very different from usual blog post. A bit of a ramble, but I hope it made sense. And pray for the Detroit Pistons. As of the typing of this last sentence, they have lost their 28th straight game :sob: :sob:

an image showing text headline that the Detroit Pistons set the losing streak record at 27 games with a picture of a man being pensive -it is the head coach of the team, Monty Williams

Update: On the next day - December 30th - THE DETROIT PISTONS WON A GAME!! The streak was capped at 28. Thank you for all your prayers :joy:. And happy 2024 :blue_heart:

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