We humans are incredibly good at coming up with reasons to do things that we don’t really want to do.
One such reason is the need to prove something.
For example, you can go to law school and become a lawyer despite hating the field, just to prove to your parents that you’re capable. But that’s a losing strategy. It’s not likely to make you happy.
Here’s a little secret I learned while I was in the middle of burnout:
People will love you even if you are, on paper, not very successful.
When I was dealing with burnout, at one point I couldn’t even clean the house for 45 minutes without freaking out. But guess what? The people I cared about loved me anyway.
You don’t need a great job, a well-decorated home, or the hottest partner for people to love you. And you don’t need to have traveled to 50 countries. These things can be awesome—of course! But if you don’t have them, people will love you anyway.
In other words: no need to prove anything.
What if you want to prove something to yourself? That’s much better. First, if you want to prove something, that has a much more positive energy than when you feel that you need to. Second, proving something to yourself probably means it aligns with your values.
For instance, if you want to prove to yourself that you can free solo El Capitan, and you do, that might become the most meaningful experience of your life.
Just think carefully about whom you’re trying to prove something to. At first glance, it might look like you’re doing something for yourself. But are you sure you’re not trying to prove something to society, to your parents, or to a childhood friend whom you haven’t spoken with in 15 years?
You don’t need to prove anything, to anyone.