We all want to be better versions of ourselves. Whether that's in school, at work, in our personal lives, or just as our own individual selves, we are constantly pushing for improvement. But what happens when we push too far and we start to doubt ourselves, to hurt ourselves, to reverse what we're striving so hard for? When do we give ourselves a break?

For the past six months, I've been working on my next raise at my job. This is after a year of stagnancy and the past six months have been nothing short of frustrating. Every day, I go into work prepared to prove to everyone that, not only can I handle the additional responsibility, but that I can also handle myself. On days that I actually get time to train, I get so wrapped up in my own thoughts and my strong desire to prove myself as worthy enough that I forget to prove that I am capable of these new duties. Most shifts end in tears and frustration, and some even end in panic attacks (it's only happened twice, but regardless, they're bumps in my road that I would rather be flattened out).

This is not how I envisioned this promotion. I don't want this to come across wrong, but most things at work come so easily to me that this was a curveball for me. It's taken me a long time to grasp this new position, which makes me doubt myself even more. I feel like I'm working twice as hard as everyone else to do the same amount of work because I have that nagging voice in my head telling me that I'm not good enough and that I'll probably never get my raise. Both statements are grossly inaccurate, but that's the beauty of living with mental illness. Those voices in your head never go away, no matter how warped they might be.

I need to be better to myself. I need to be easier on myself. I need to believe in myself. I know that people at work believe in me and want to see me succeed. We live in a society that stresses perfection and chastises mistakes, but if we want to properly learn something, mistakes happen and "perfection" takes time. I am not defined by my ability to perform a certain way. I am defined by my work ethic and my passion and my dedication and my heart. I just need to keep reminding myself this every day I'm training.

We should never stop trying to better ourselves, just because it may be hard. Perfection is an allusion. So the next time that nagging voice in your head tries to tear you down, take a break, take a breath, roll those shoulders back, and keep telling yourself that you're doing just fine.