Every time I turn on the radio, it seems like some new rap artist is throwing down tracks about toughing it through all the hate and naysayers in their life to come out on top — of the charts, the industry, their personal lives.
And while it’s more than empowering for the girl who wishes the underdog always won, the body never required sleep, and the brain constantly generated genius ideas, it’s made me a tiny bit worried about how that ties into all the ones who don’t make it.
This year, for the first time, I watched almost every episode of American Idol leading up to the live performance weeks, which are just beginning. And I was shocked to see so many weak knees, sweaty foreheads, churning stomachs, and hospital gurneys.
Every promo was dripping with red siren sound effects and “guess who passes out after this commercial break” teasers.
If you look up the word “driven” in the dictionary, there are two sentences:
I was driven to the hospital last night after staying up for forty-eight hours straight.
I’m driven to be the next great (insert occupation here).
What I’m hoping, of course, is that those two sentences don’t come out of the same mouth. That being driven to success doesn’t land us a seat in the emergency room waiting area.
Some things to keep in mind for all you go-getters out there who might be compromising your health for the sake of a chart-topping song or the next great American novel or the best new line of discount fashion items:
Eat three meals a day: Starving yourself and skipping meals might seem attractive because you’ll look good in that swimsuit photo shoot next month, but you won’t be able to produce any work worth chatting about.
Sleep when you’re tired: Contrary to popular belief, staying up all night doesn’t make you more productive — it leaves you feeling like the group zombie who can’t contribute anything worthwhile to the creative conversation.
Turn off the smart phone: One of our most destructive habits, and the driving force behind pushing ourselves over the limit, is social comparison. Someone else is up until four a.m. working on the research paper. Someone else is using free time to paint a mural outside the art museum downtown.
Someone else is always going to be doing something to make you feel less than enough, so tune it out, turn the phone off, and stick to what you can handle. I’m all about testing limits and pushing through adversity, but not at the cost of physical and emotional well-being.
You’ll get there, wherever there is. But on your own terms — not theirs.