A friend of mine was listening to my schedule (workouts, workshops, committee meetings, family obligations, church obligations, writing projects, etc.) and asked me why. Why did I keep pushing myself? Why did I continue to say "yes" when I could very easily coast through the next few 5k runs, let administration do their evil work without me, and forget publishing the novel that haunts my dreams?
He has a point. I could have a generally stress-free life if I chose to. But I don't. In fact, I often make trouble for myself to the point I'm toeing deadlines to the second and having panic attacks. Why don't I just get out of the driven car and relax?
I guess because I was brought up with the attitude that if I have a talent, I need to use it to its fullest, not sit around and waste it. There's a balance I've yet to achieve between pushing the limits of my capabilities and taking on just enough to be efficient. There's a goal in there somewhere!
But I think more to the point, I like the challenge. In a weird, self-depreciating way I enjoy criticism and stress and struggle because when I DO achieve my goals, it makes them that much more enjoyable. It proves to the nay-sayers that I am more than they think. I'm worth more than what they think. And even better, proves to MYSELF I'm worth more than I think.
That last one, folks, is an achievement.