My dad and I had a conversation the day I moved back home for the summer that really opened my eyes and broadened my perspective on success and raising the bar.
This is what he told me, "You know the phrase "what you bring to the table," one day I realized it is a load of crap. It is not a matter of what you bring to the table, you have to bring the table itself."
Initially, I was a little confused and missed his point completely. What does it even mean to bring the table? Why would I want to do that? After he elaborated, things became clear and his words grew on me and left a lasting impact.
Bringing the table means never throwing out your values and what is most important to you for anyone for any reason.
It means to set the bar as high as you possibly can, or simply as high as you would like it to be. That part is completely up to you.
If you are content with setting the bar low, settling, and making lots of compromises - set the bar low. If you want to set the bar as high as possible and live a life you are proud of and always dreamed of, set it high and never settle for less than you know you deserve in all aspects of life.
Sometimes I doubt myself and my abilities if I do not receive any approval from others. Sometimes I wonder if I am good enough for a certain guy or if a certain guy is good enough for me. Sometimes I wonder if I am creative enough and good enough at art to be in the School of Art and Visual Studies at Kentucky or if I should pursue something more inside the box.
What I learned from my dad is that it is normal to doubt yourself and forget what you deserve. It is okay when you feel as if you are not living the life you want to be living. You cannot get there overnight.
Dreams are not instantaneous. Often times dreams are drawn out and require a lot of work, many successes and failures, and times of doubt and uncertainty before the end goal is reached.
That being said, do not worry if you feel you derailed and got off track. It is okay if you are not with the man/woman of your dreams yet. It is okay if you are feeling unsuccessful in your pursuits knowing you have this big goal and dream in the back of your mind. It is okay if you are unsure if the career you are pursuing is best for you.
Feeling a little lost is normal but you have to focus on bringing the table and making a mental note of what you deserve, what you are capable of and what you are not willing to compromise and stick to it! Do not give up and settle for less just because you are not receiving the approval, praise, recognition, or a physical manifestation of the work you are putting in.
Even if you are putting in no work at all, relax. Some point soon you will, and you will take baby steps. Do not compare yourself and your journey to that of those who seem to be leaps and bounds ahead of you.
We all begin our journey at different times and even restart a time or two, so no worries on that end if you are not "there" yet.
Be patient and focus on what you want to become rather than whether or not you and 'what you have to bring to the table' is enough. Know that all that you 'bring' is enough, but it is important to push yourself to strive for better and resist settling no matter how tempting or hard it may be.
Handcraft your table, add all your special touches to it. Pour your heart and energy into your table and do not stop until your table is as beautiful and sturdy as you dream to make it.