My mum always used to say “I don’t care how well you do, as long as you try your best.” She’s a very wise woman (you can sample some of that wisdom here) but – and I’m only admitting this because she’s currently on holiday and might not read this – it’s very rare in life that I ever give it my best.
At the risk of making you want to punch me in the face, I tend to do pretty well for very little effort on my part. I hated science at school so I did not revise for my GCSE, only filled in 70% of the questions and still ended up with a B. I have no idea how that happened, but I certainly did not give it my best. And sometimes, if I did feel inclined to go the extra mile, to put in the planning and preparation, to really try hard, I would walk away with the A* (not in science – that would be ridiculous) but honestly, when you can get pretty good results without trying too hard, who’s going that extra mile?
So that probably explains why a lot of the people who know me call me lazy. Over the years I have developed a bit of a reputation for not wanting to do things. I hate exercise, I’m often averse to leaving the house, and if you come round mine I hope you know where the kettle is because you’re making your own tea, kid. And I didn’t know why I was like that; how other people had the gumption to get up and do things while I just wanted to watch TV – until I started working for free.
I currently have three jobs, two of which I am not paid for. For 30 hours a week I work in publishing (for actual money and everything), on Fridays I’m the Deputy Editor for Liberti, and the rest of my time is dedicated to Pursuit International, a charity for which I take care of the content and general communications. And while up until this point in my life I have got away with the bare minimum, I can finally tell my Mum: I’m trying my best.
For the first time in my life, I am doing something not because I have to, but because I want to (I must want to do it pretty badly if I’m not getting paid for it!) And because of this, I’m doing it well. I find myself looking forward to meetings with the rest of the Pursuit team, and feeling energised and ready to get going when the meeting is over. I wake up on Friday mornings eager to check my emails to see what exciting Liberti interview I get to do, what insightful article I get to edit (or what half-thought-out blog post I get to write!) My friends at (proper) work, who have only known me for a year, say “You’re always so busy!” These days I am – and I love it.
So that got me wondering: are the negative traits of our personalities innate, or are they a sign that we’re not being fulfilled? I always thought I was just a lazy person, but the friends I’ve met since working for Liberti and Pursuit think I’m far less lazy than the friends who have known me longer (everyone still acknowledges the laziness but, you know, a bit less). I do have more energy now, I do get out more and do more things (I don’t do exercise because I’m not mental). I’ve found two organisations I’m passionate about, two jobs that challenge me, and suddenly it’s almost like I’m a different person.
When a toddler is having a tantrum, you don’t often hear the parents say “Classic: that’s just how she is”. Instead, it’s “somebody didn’t get a lot of sleep last night” or “oh, she’s just hungry.” When our needs are not being met, when we’re missing something, that doesn’t always manifest in a logical way. Sometimes you may get angry or weepy or stressed or, yes, lethargic, but that doesn’t mean you’re an angry or stressy person; you just have to dig a little deeper to find out why you react to life the way you do.
Because, as much as it pains me to admit when my mother is right, we should be trying our best. God doesn’t care about the results you get; he cares about the heart you have when you’re doing it. But maybe it’s hard to give it your best when you don’t really care about what you’re doing. If you’re phoning it in at work, maybe you’re not being challenged enough, or you need a career change. If you find yourself snapping at the people you love, take a look at what happened in your day and try to work out what’s so frustrating. If you’re tired all the time, maybe there’s something in your life that drains you and you need to get rid of it. God doesn’t just want the best from us; he wants the best for us and perhaps we need to take the time to find something we’re passionate about, and take ownership of it, before we can give life our all.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett