The Mountain I Climb

Ryliegh Martin , Writer, Editor

My mom used to say to me every day, “Your best isn’t defined by the grade or the score. It’s defined by how hard you tried that day.”

Initially, I ignored what she said. Because I believed my best was good grades, understanding things and doing well. And when I would fail something, or not comprehend what was going on, I labeled it as my best and it brought me down. Because my best wasn’t how hard I tried, but how hard I failed. It wasn’t how well I did, but what little I achieved. 

I can say this honestly, doing that, believing that, it doesn’t work. It breaks you down, it pushes you into the mud, and beats you over the head until you start to feel like your best is worthless. Like what you did that day can’t amount to what you failed in the past. Or what you failed that day could never be erased by how well you did today.

It’s a never-ending cycle of pain and anger, frustration and disappointment. I always felt like the minute I climbed the mountain and landed- feet first head high- was the minute I would tumble and trip over every failure, every mistake I’ve made, and every day I failed to achieve what I considered should be my best. And I would just stand up and go again and again.

Until I realized it one day when I hit the ground. I was looking up at that mountain, knowing I’ve done the same exhausting degrading climb every day of my life, and I laughed at myself. I was wasting my time and effort climbing to the top of a mountain not built for me. I was wasting my time laboriously climbing up hills that got me somewhere I shouldn’t have been getting. That mountain that I saw as an achievement to reach was the thing keeping me from actually finding my starting point.

And when I found that starting point, I found my foot hold. And I began to climb. To run up a mountain that never makes me fall, one that kept me running because the minute I reached the peak, there was a new peak waiting because my best was always changing and every day that best is a new mountain to climb, and a new path to grow in.  

And I remember now with little regret of how I got here, those words my mom spoke to me at the beginning of the climb, “Your best isn’t defined by the grade or the score. It’s defined by how hard you tried that day.”

What mountain have you been climbing? What slopes have you fallen from? Holes you’ve been trapped in? Is it worth it? Is it your best?