Several years ago, as I scrolled through social media, seeing post after post from high school and college classmates celebrating remarkable personal and professional successes—finishing medical school, joining a prestigious law firm, or finishing their custom-built dream home—I was overjoyed for my friends. Compared to their highlight reel, though, my life seemed stuck in neutral.

My resume of diverse work experiences—as a public radio host, receptionist, customer service representative, non-profit coordinator, and elementary school German teacher—seemed scattered as I considered my friends’ seemingly clear-cut paths to achievement. Newly married and expecting my first child, I worked full-time as a receptionist to make payments on my student loan debt, wondering if I would ever measure up to others’ shining accomplishments.

After my son was born, a combination of factors led me to step away from work after a decade of employment in varied roles. My days were happier and life with our little one was full, but I was puzzled by how I could measure my success apart from working. I dove into the often overwhelming and ever-growing array of self-help books and podcasts, determined to create my perfect self, a perfect home space, and a perfect plan for future success.

Overwhelmed by the task of curating a flawless life, I realized that “going for the gold” did not mean that everything I do must be unparalleled. Rather, I could find “gold” in knowing that I gave my best effort and honored my need for rest.

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