What It’s Like To Live A Life By Numbers

life by numbers
life by numbers
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It’s true what is said about life, it really is a numbers game. Well, at least it is for me. I have always lived a life that has been controlled by numbers.

Ever since my younger days, I remember always being fascinated with numbers. My favorite game to play with my grandma was Go Fish. My favorite subject in school was math. In everything that I did, numbers were always present. 

And not just any number either. I became fascinated with counting numbers and watching them add up. I wanted more, because to me, more represented a sign of higher social status and of simply being better. Whether it was having more than others, being liked by more individuals, making more money, you get the idea. I had always viewed numbers as a way to measure my personal value in life. 

Think about it for a moment, how much do numbers impact your life? From money, credit score, the time you have in a day, the number of pounds that you weigh, the number of calories that you contain on a daily basis, test scores, etc. Let’s face it, we have successfully allowed numbers to define our overall quality of life. 

Living A Life By Numbers

I will admit, though, that it was a tab bit extreme for me. I used to work a job where I was paid based on my metrics. I was paid based on salary, but I was also paid based on commission. The more business I brought the company (in the form of dollar amounts), the higher I was paid. 

It felt like I would never be able to get away from numbers. Aside from my work, I was also battling an obsessive eating disorder. Every calorie that went into my body whether it was a mere 5 calories or 500 calories was to be counted. And from there, the numbers process would begin in my head. I would sit and recount every calorie that I consumed over and over again just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. 

When it came time to getting paid for my job, it was much of the same. I had always let my fears control me, and somewhat still do. I saved every penny that I possibly could just in case something bad were to go wrong. Every time I would get paid, I would tell myself that I would start relaxing once I reached a certain number in my bank account. Once I reached that number though, it became a game to see how much I could actually accumulate and the game would start all over again. 

Honestly, it felt like I was trapped. I didn’t know how to escape the numbers game that was going on inside of my head. Part of me still questions whether or not I will be able to eat food again without constantly recalculating the nutritional content over and over in my head. Other parts of me wonder if I will ever get over my fear of losing money. While I have grown in regards to both of these, they are still battles that are very much relevant in my life today. 

I would be lying if I said that the numbers game hasn’t taken away from my quality of life. It most certainly has. I have skipped going out with friends simply because I didn’t know how much money I would be spending or how I would be able to tame my eating disorder. I have locked myself away for years at a time for the very same reasons. Eventually, people moved on and simply quit talking to me. 

To be quite frank, if I were in their shoes, I probably would have done the same. I wasn’t open and as transparent as I should have been with those who cared about me the most, and I wasn’t in a state of mind where I was willing to face my struggles. I had become so fixated on living a life by numbers that everything else around me became oblivious. 

Overcoming The Stress of Numbers

Something has changed though. No, I have not completely overcome the numbers game inside of my head. It’s a work in progress, and maybe it always will be. I simply just don’t know. But I also feel as if I have been given a second opportunity – one in which I am not being rewarded based on metrics, but rather on who I am as an individual. 

I started a new job a few months ago working for a local university. As an enrollment counselor, you might think that my job is to get as many students enrolled as I possibly can. I did too when I first started, but shortly after, I realized that’s just part of the equation. 

My job isn’t necessarily to sign up any student who is seeking information. It’s to sign up the right student. If it’s not a good time for somebody to go back to school, I will tell them that. If there is a better school out there for them, I will tell them that. In the case that we don’t have the program that the student is looking for, I will actually take time out of my workday to help them find a school that does. Not many colleges and universities have the same practices, and that’s why I feel blessed to have the job that I do. I truly get to help people instead of forcing them into something that they don’t necessarily want – which was part of my previous job. 

The best part is, I’m getting awarded and recognized at work not based on how many individuals I sign up, but rather based on the feedback from every person that I talk to.

It’s made me realize that numbers aren’t everything. Being a better person and doing what is right for the world around you is far more important than the number of sales you make, the number of calories that you consume, the number on the scale, or the number that is reflective in your bank account. All of these are subjective and can easily be manipulated. They will never define who you are as a person or your quality of life unless you allow them to. 

Don’t Lose Hope In Yourself

Still, though, some guy on the internet telling you that it’s going to get better hardly does anything for you. I felt the same way. I often wondered if I would ever see life in a different way, if I would ever feel like I amounted to anything, or if I was ever going to live up to the expectations that I had set for myself. 

All I can say is that it’s not easy, but it’s doable. If I have been able to see life in a different way and ease the constant chatter that once filled my head, I assure you that you can do the same as well.

It’s going to take time, it’s going to take dedication, and it’s going to take a ton of relentless effort on your end, but if there is something that you want out of life that you currently don’t have, it is up to you to work towards it with every bit of energy that you have. 

Life is a constant work in progress. Don’t look at your struggles as a way to measure who you are as an individual. Instead, see them as an opportunity to grow into the individual that you want to become. Acknowledge your struggles, the constant chatter in your mind, the obsessive games that you play with yourself, and do your best to make strides towards overcoming them. We all deal with struggles and adversity, but only those who are willing to face their struggles and adversities will overcome them. 

Living a life by number hasn’t always been an easy obstacle to deal with, just as no obstacle is an easy one to deal with. But one thing that I have realized (and one thing I want to emphasize) is that there is more to life than the obstacles that we face. Do your best to be a better person, to learn as much as you can, and to make strides in this game that is called life. If you do, everything else will fall into place just as it should. 

Michael Bonnell

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