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When My Best Just Isn’t Good Enough

Breona Barr

I am doing the very best I can, but I could do so much better. There is more I could give. More that I could sacrifice. Less wellness activities that I could do.

How many times have we all said that to ourselves? The little voice of doubt or contempt. Who is your little voice? And don't give me the side eye like you don't have one.

My little voice is my mother. Sorry, but it is. It's the stern encouragement and subtle fear that everything I do has to be my best, done better than those around me, and done to her expectations. As an adult I can now objectively and appreciatively look back at our interactions and know that she did it because she wanted me to be successful and have more than what she had. After all, isn't that what all parents want for their children? To do better than they did? To maybe not have to struggle as much? To face less adversity? For someone to finally experience the American dream that each generation has used as motivation during the many tough times?

My mother’s mother instilled it in her: When something bad, even horrible, happens - you pick yourself up and you get back to work. We don't have the time, money, or resources to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. Be a fighter. Keep fighting. For yourself. For your family. Keep fighting. And don't stop because bad times are always lurking around the corner, waiting for you to slack off and ruin everything you have worked so hard for. That fear? That sacrifice? It is so deep in the women of my family that it is damn near genetic. I respect it. I am very proud to come from a line of such strong women. My father was hard working as well, but he always quietly guided me to do other things that mattered too.

I have often heard that a fighting spirit is something you are born with. I respectfully disagree. A fighting spirit is made. You either fight or you perish in one way or another. If you didn't have to fight why would you? That's stupid. The problem arises with where to stop fighting. My mom fought with everything she had to make a future for my brother and me. I am still grasping the enormity of the situations she and my father faced when raising us, and later on her own. It had to have been scary because even the little taste I have now scares the crap out of me. I lost weight, sleep, and little pieces of sanity. I don't know how she did it. Well actually I do. She did the best she could, no doubt beating herself up the entire way for not doing better - kind of like I'm doing right now. Eventually I think she made some peace with it, but it's a fragile kind of acceptance easily seen with any negative associative memory from my childhood that I dare share. So I have learned to keep them to myself around her because I know she probably has things she would have done differently if she could, but unfortunately time rarely grants us that opportunity.

I will not get to undo the way school is going for me. The way my break up went. The path my life is taking right now. Years from now I will look back on it and hopefully understand. However, in the midst of it I can’t help but constantly beat myself up over it. I should do better because my Mom wouldn't accept less. Even when it hurts me, my inner compass still says she is right. I can always do better than a B grade. I can always improve my use of my time. I still believe that's right, I guess. I can always do better. The thing is though, when all is said and done I probably won't remember the grade or the rank - I will remember the moments: The journey. The tears, sorrow, the pain, the frustration...and the joy.


 Breona Barr

Breona Barr
Year in Medical School: MS1
Grew Up: Austin, Texas
College Attended: UNC Charlotte (2006)
Favorite Quote: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”?
- Lao Tzu


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Last Updated: 05-21-2014
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