Numbers are everywhere.
Whether it be two thick red streaks on an exam, a couple of digits on a LED screen, or on a hefty paycheck. They are practical, concrete, and usually reliable. However, what happens when you start to define yourself by them; from physique to income, or from academic grades to timed records? Your inspiration plummets, leaving you in an endless loophole of self-doubt and critique. It may not seem like it, but it is actually true. You are more than a number; more than a mere piece of data.
The power of numbers can only affect you as much as you allow it to. Truth is: numbers hold limited meaning, even though one may wonder, “How will I get into my first-choice school now?”, “When am I ever going to be able to stop swimming in debt?”, or even, “Why can’t I ever be as talented as so-and-so?” Take a moment and really step outside of the box with that number clearly labelled upon it. Venture outside of it, and walk around it. You cannot destroy it, but you can acknowledge it.
If we remain in that box for too long, we miss out on all of the opportunities around us that are floating, just waiting to be explored.
I’ve been through a lot of pressure (external and self-driven) to excel in practically everything: school, relationships, personal reputation. You name it, I’ve probably considered it. Ambitious and hardworking at heart, my type A personality is always on top of the game. I’ll be the first one to do a presentation, organize an event for friends, or respond to emails. I’m constantly living in the future, with a to-do list, and on top of that: more numbers! However, every little errand always felt rushed and hurried, and I found myself saying, “I’m too busy” to many of the activities I used to enjoy.
An example of myself putting numbers first is this simple thought: “If I receive x% on my final grade, I am competent.” The thought itself is superficial, but it seemed perfectly logical at the time. Throughout the years, I’ve learned that striving for contentment rather than perfection leads to a healthier mindset, and in return keeps your sanity in check. Happiness is a choice, and change is inevitable. If we build our foundation of happiness solely out of numbers, we find that it crumbles down time after time.
Everyone hits a point in their life when the numbers do not add up and everything appears to spiral out of control.
The brain begins to store mumbo jumbo. Stress snacks upon your energy, while depression enjoys a feast at your sanity. Like the common flu, this tension can be transferred from others unto yourself. The key is to remember where you stand on the issue. You are not incapable. You are never a failure. As Abraham Lincoln once said,
“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”
Just keep moving forward. Remember, this too, shall pass. Think broad, not narrow. If we learn, merely for the sake of obtaining numbers to validate our success, satisfaction will seldom follow. So, think positive, but keep it realistic. Remember, you are the only person who can control your happiness.
Take a moment to really reflect. When was the last time you wrote in your journal? When was the last time you picked up a good book and got lost in it, taken a stroll in the park without discussing anything work-related, or participated in a board game Wednesday? Buzzing with infinite possibilities, like inspiration from literature, famous influencers, and nature, can really give life a pick-up call.
Numbers are not our enemy, but if we allow them to take over our confidence, they will rob us from our true potential.
Numbers are everywhere… and we are far greater than them.
Featured photo credit: New Evolution Designs via newevolutiondesigns.com