I just got back from NCTIES. I spent 2.5 days learning and sharing with some AMAZE-BALLS educators who are changing the world and thinking (and sometimes failing) forward. It was exhilarating. I left with a brain on fire with ideas and a heart that was full of hope and possibility, but also a little bit heavy with the realization that reality isn't quite what the last couple of days have been. My ideas will not be embraced or built upon in the fashion that occurred over the last few days. Things will move decidedly slower than I'd like...for reasons as much my own as those from others. I'm in space mentally where the sky is the limit, except for the limits that are there. Navigating between them is tricky.
And then I saw that.
I saw it as an excuse.
I get it. I'm busy. I'm tired. I need more time, energy, money, caffeine, resources. I get it. I'm doing the best I can.
But not really.
I'm aware at every moment that by doing what I am doing, I am failing something (or someone else). I'm aware at every moment that if I was just trying a little harder or a little more organized or being a little more patient. I'm aware that if I just read that last article, book, tweet, whatever that I could find that one piece that would make the puzzle complete.
I'm writing this right now instead of grading papers or eating lunch or taking a shower or planning my lessons or writing my class newsletter or writing my currently far-away son a letter. By doing this, I am failing in several ways. I could definitely be a better wife (that shower), mother (that letter), and teacher (those papers and plans).
I see these words as something held on to by those who are refusing to acknowledge that better is out there. We are never our best. Ever. There's always something we can become better at. Always. This is a cop out. This is an excuse for not trying the new thing or reading that book or writing that post or embracing whatever the opportunity is that has presented itself to you. By clinging to the "But I'm doing my best" narrative, we keep ourselves from looking for the better.
Is it ok that I'm doing the best that I can in this moment? Yes. Will I ever accept it as truly the best I can? Never.
And then, just a few posts down, I ran across this.
Why can I allow myself grace here, when I couldn't accept gentleness there?
The difference is growth. I can give myself grace (and maybe a bit of the gentle) as long as it is because I'm growing. I'm not overwhelmed simply because of life. I'm overwhelmed (and exhausted and frustrated and hungry at the moment) because I'm constantly striving to be better. And that's ok. I'm not clinging to the excuse of doing my best.
I'm pulling myself toward it. It's exhilarating. And it's hard. And that's ok.