Someone Else's Measuring Stick

May 26, 2021    Josh LeBlanc

My whole life, at least as far back as I can remember, I have tried living up to others’ expectations of me. Like all kids I always looked for my parents’ approval and the coveted ata boy!

Like many, I came from broken home. Don’t get me wrong, I had great stepparents and great families. However, I never quite measured up, never quite belonged to either side, and could never live up to anyone’s expectations. Playing sports as a kid, it was never “good job”! It was always, you could have done this better, you should have done this, or we need to work on that. As far as grades went, forget about it. I hated school and it hated me. I never could quite measure up to the expectations that were levied on me. So much so, that my parents urged me to consider the military, “because I wasn’t exactly the best student”.

I have struggled with feeling successful and like I am enough my whole life. The military is one place, especially in my later years that I felt I was enough. I thrived in the structure and brotherhood that the military provided. I always felt like my team had my back and I had theirs. Right about the time I hit my stride and felt I measured up, it was time to retire and start all over.

Here I am almost 40 years old and still feel like I just cannot measure up. Sometimes it really gets to me. It makes me question why nothing that I do seems to matter all that much and things that should be considered significant achievements, come and go without a blip.

I say all that, to say this, I think it finally hit me. If you live your life measuring your success, your achievements, and your life by someone else’s stick, you will always come up short. Something I was told all my years in the military is that no one cares for you like you care for you. The only persons approval you need in your life, is your own. It is nice for other people to recognize your accomplishments, but those accomplishments are yours. People in your life always have their own things, we all carry our own baggage, and we will drop it on whoever we can, to make ourselves feel better.

This mindset is where it starts. This is where growth starts. This is where overcoming starts. Press into the things around you that you do not have to work for approval from, and those things could be those friends that have always just stood by you, your faith, your family, children, whatever those pure things are that simply want nothing from you, except you. That, coupled with you fighting for you, is where everything starts and ends.

-Joshua LeBlanc