An illustration of a gold trophy sits on a pedestal.

Trophies show the epitome of reward and success. (HS Insider)


Opinion: In the New Year, just do your best

In today's fast-paced society, with every reason to continuously work towards success and perfection, we become remiss of the beauty of knowing that all we can do is our best.
<a href="" target="_self">Edward Chen</a>

Edward Chen

January 19, 2022

With the new year coming in full swing, our New Year’s resolutions come skittering toward the tips of our pencils. Yet, as we busily write down our goals for the year, statistics show that only 8% of people succeed in their New Year’s resolutions. In everything that we pursue, through failure or success, we must always remember that as long as we do our best, that is enough. Sometimes, complacency is the way forward.

Throughout our lives, we have always wanted to excel in one way or another. Growing up, the utter sense of novelty that inundates us leaves little room for contemplation. We experience our first breath, first step, first flight, first … everything, and as our well of knowledge grows and accumulates these precious drops of experience, our introspective lens rupture. We are introduced to a playground of children the same age as us, and suddenly, a social hierarchy stomps into our conscience. We begin to look back on our actions and our own dispositions in relation to the people around us.

After all, we humans are social creatures. As denoted by Yuval Noah Harari in his book, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” humans, like chimps, have social instincts that enabled our ancestors to form friendships and hierarchies. Additionally, endogenous opioids, produced in the brain and known to be responsible for the runner’s high, have also been known to be triggered by social laughter and social presence in general. We desire the fiery burn of bonding and acceptance.

The inexorable fear of what others think and our own footing on the social ladder continually plague our minds. A competitive spirit arises, and as we create for ourselves and bask in our achievements, a little voice whispers back, “keep going.” Is that for better or for worse?

Our inherent insatiable greed for MORE and hunger to excel and achieve do not go unwarranted. Masterpieces sprout from it, and a tenacious work ethic will bear its own fruits. As we realize the beneficial reciprocity that productivity begets, a cycle of work and perfection commences. Yet, burnout culture still exists, and with it comes a plethora of pressure and anxiety to succeed without any room for failure. This fosters a fear of failure, mishaps, loss and a crippling desire for perfection, prosperity and continuous success.

We can only do our best. That reminder must be etched into the forefronts of our minds as our pursuit for growth and achievement becomes grander and more extravagant. Without a motive to have fun, we may forget to stop and get some fresh air, and ultimately, we may drown in our overflowing well of knowledge and desire.