Your calendar is not your value

By Will Tate

Measuring your success and self-worth based on how full your calendar is. 

Reflecting back on my Sophomore and Junior year as a college student, I can vividly remember asking questions the YouSchool asks and feeling naked and exposed as my insecurities were laid out in front of me. It did not feel good at the time, but it did uncover places for growth and tangible improvements I could work toward. I discovered quickly one way I protected myself from getting vulnerable with myself and others, was the way I utilized busyness as a tool to fill the void of significance and self-worth. Not only did I measure my self-worth based on how my calendar looked, but also the sense of overwhelming it brought me, which allowed me to avoid answering hard questions about myself—comfortably preventing me from reliving some of my past experiences. 

As silly as it sounds, I made a ridiculous attempt to impress myself by having a colorful Google calendar and measured my importance by the limited spots I had available in it. 

No pain, no gain…Right?

I pondered this a little while longer and found a correlation between the way I measured my success in wrestling with the way I would measure the success in my life. I learned that the soreness and bruises from pushing my body to the limits in wrestling was not always a translatable measurement of success in regards to the way I measured success in life. Measuring my success in life based on the busyness and feeling of being overwhelmed in my daily life was not the healthiest measuring tool. 

I confess that I stuffed my calendar with things that were not important to me nor did they bring me life. Sometime during the journey, I began stressing about things that did not mean a whole lot to me. I still remember my family, friends, and roommates asking, “Why are you so busy? What could you possibly be doing all the time?”

Placing my value in what I do

Placing your value in what you do is not necessarily always wrong, but I did learn that when I participated in activities that did not feed me nor have a significant impact on my life or other’s, those activities simply functioned as fillers. They filled space on my calendar, were unproductive, and definitely did not get me out of bed in the morning. It was safe to say that I had a problem on my hands. 

Being wrong, making mistakes and failing

“If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robison

I struggle with perfectionism. It’s a daily battle. I don’t like being wrong, making mistakes or failing. When I fill my schedule with meaningless tasks and suffer from this mindset of perfectionism, it is not a pretty sight. Somehow I can get instant gratification out of perfecting meaningless tasks. Disgusting! 

It is a temptation of mine to avoid being wrong as much as possible. Do you blame me? Employers stigmatize mistakes. When we are evaluated based on performance, which is even common for athletes as well, naturally, people avoid making mistakes and want to be wrong as least frequent times as possible. 

Fear of failure sucks the life out of creativity and similarly prevents some from being their true self. It’s risky. How can one cultivate their own story when they fear to be wrong or making a mistake? 

Mentors who fail with you

When I am looking for a mentor in any area of life, I always consider these three things: 

Are they well versed in their field of study? 
Are they accomplished? 
Are they willing to fail with me and remain

Mentors are important. They have a lifetime’s worth of experience and wisdom they can share with you. Having someone who is accomplished and credible fail with you when you are trying to figure out your story, provides support and significance and shows their willingness to invest in your personal development. 

Give yourself permission to be yourself

Success to me looks like getting myself to recognize daily, that I am the only one that can give myself the approval to be my genuine self. It is necessary to take ownership of constructing of my own story. 

There is a temptation in perfectionism to always be right. One can easily decide to replicate what someone else is doing or how someone else is living. Unfortunately, sometimes other people’s lives become the standard or expectation for one’s own life. I am a fan of having structures or some sort of guidance, if needed, to grow one’s self but many times replication is a result of someone who fears to make mistakes or failing. I’ve had multiple friends who had great people in their lives. Some of them tried to be like the people they looked up to, to the point of perfection. They forgot who they were in the process and had a difficult time trying to figure out who they were without those inspirational people in their lives. 

"The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that." - Arnold Schwarzenegger

At the end of the day, try not fill your calendar with things to make you seem significant, and try not to replicate or be exactly like someone else……

Go ahead. Give yourself permission to be yourself.

Will Tate is the YouSchool's latest and greatest intern. He's a senior at the University of San Diego, a scholar at the Gates Millenium Scholars program and the Simon Family Foundation, co-leader of Pancake Peeps, and most recently was voted by his peers to be the school's next Associated Student President. A proud product of Oceanside, CA, Will spends his time thinking deep thoughts, getting ridiculously jacked, and convincing others that he's not as impressive as he seems. You can connect with Will via LinkedIn