everyday life

The Pressure to be the Perfect _______ (Mom, Wife, Daughter, Person, Doormat, etc.)

I’ve had an almost finished draft of this post on deck for weeks. It’s a testament to how utterly draining expectation can be on any given project…

The last two terms of school have been unbelievably trying. I consciously received my first ‘C’ because I was paralyzed by the thought of deadlines. I spent days reading the material, thinking about the assignments, and reading the instructions for them. I sat there staring at my computer, hands on the keyboard, unable to type anything. Unwilling to type anything.

I’ve generally been good at getting things done at the last minute. I’ve turned in some of my best work with just seconds on the clock. But something changed in the last few months. I started to question why I was even pursuing a degree. I’ve been on this journey, strongly committed, for 4 years now. In that time I have remained full time at my job, gotten married, and had a baby, but it wasn’t until now that I have started to actually burn out.

We all have our things — the things that wear us down or hold us back. Insecurities.

Growing up, I can’t recall a time that my parents ever really pressured me to do something. If I wanted to take dance lessons, violin lessons, ice skating, chorus, bowling, gymnastics, tee-ball…I had a choice. If I was skipping a lesson or practice, it’s because I didn’t want to go. When it came to school, my parents weren’t constantly on my back about assignments or grades. I did well in school because I enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing and knowing things, and constantly learning.

There was no blatant pressure to be anything or anyone.

Even during my senior year of high school, when I decided school wasn’t my thing anymore, and I started skipping class and hanging out with the cool kids (read: dangerously misguided youths), my parents gave me the room to work myself out. To figure out what in the hell I wanted from life.

So when and where did this pressure for perfection become such a weight on my overly hunched shoulders? Where is the invisible judgement coming from? Surely it can’t all be self-inflicted…

But alas, here we are. All of this pressure and no idea what direction it’s coming from.

It’s easy to fall victim to people-pleasing. You want to be the attentive wife, doting mother, star student, pride evoking daughter, and trusted friend. We set these expectations for ourselves and how we would like our lives and relationships to be, but sometimes it’s just not feasible. Especially if we’re not flexible with ourselves.

Listening to and reading all the motivational self-help gurus you can tolerate can only help so much, and more often than not, there’s no one you feel comfortable turning to, to vent out all of your pent up frustrations. The true mark a people-pleaser.

It all boils down to this:

Some days you are going to hit it out of the park. You’re going to get home by 5pm, get that (home)work done, (healthy) dinner on the table by six, laundry: washed, folded, and put away, house cleaned, and passion projects fulfilled…

…and other days are going to be spent hiding at your corner desk stuffing your face with bagels, donuts, and chocolate, wondering when it will all be over. Totally not what I did this morning…maybe just a little…

While that was once a box of donuts, I swear I only had one. It just happened to be the last one, so I was tasked with disposing of the box.

It’s becoming increasingly important to recognize when it is necessary to just take a step back and breathe. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. You can’t be everyone’s everything. But I know you’re going to try to be, so pour yourself a glass of wine and breathe once in a while. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you’re probably kicking ass.


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