Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"When you start thinking of pressure, it's because you've started to think of failure." ~Tommy Lasorda

There's been a black cloud following me around the past few days, and I've identified it as my own sense of struggle and failure. Purely self-imposed? Yes. Mostly irrational?  Probably. Nevertheless, it is here, and it's dribbling all over my energy, motivation, and mood. The reasons why I feel this way are mostly irrelevant, and I don't want to invite a chorus of awkward compliments. I know you all love me and support me, and believe me, I love you all so much for it, and I recognize the value of your support.

I'm more interested in why I am doing this to myself. The things that I am pressuring myself over, and the things I am accusing myself of failing at are all things to which I normally would be impervious. I'm hammering away at my confidence, my productivity, my ambition, my accomplishments... since when did I aspire to be a super hero?

It's seems as though what I think I want and what I expect of myself are not in line with what is realistic. But I don't see that as a fact of life. I see it as falling short. Why isn't it realistic? Sometimes the idea that "anything is possible" is a poisonous one. It can lead us down destructive paths that are doomed to failure.

I was talking with a friend yesterday, and I was expressing some of these things, and she empathized with me. She said that if she listed all the things she was dissatisfied with, rather than be reasonable about her expectations, she'd see it as a list of all the things she has to be better at. YES. YES. A thousand times YES.

She asked me where I thought this came from. I think it's a really bad product of perfectionist + over-achiever. I've was always taught to push harder, work harder, think harder. Eventually I took these habits on and my adult-self governs them. But I'm not doing a very good job of managing it. I don't know how to balance it. I don't know how to be reasonable. My boyfriend said I have two settings: 0 mph and 100 mph. I don't know 55. And to some extent, he's right. I totally suck at moderation. But I don't think it's all about moderation. Moderation is a component to this, in the sense that I have to be more realistic about what can be accomplished in a certain time frame. But I think there's more to it. Acceptance? Realism? Practicality?

I fear these things lead to complacency. I see it as settling for less. When you set a certain standard or goal, anything beneath that is falling short, isn't it? Is the answer lowering my standards or my expectations of myself? I've never been good at accepting that I couldn't do or accomplish something.  And then the flipside of that is "You can do anything you set your mind to."

No. I can't.

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how much I read your words sometimes and think they could be coming from my brain.

    I think part of what I'm realizing too is that it's simply impossible to do all and be all. We have to give ourselves some slack for the things we can't accomplish and then let them go and move on to the next. Because there will always be others. And it won't always be possible to catch up.

    It doesn't mean you're a failure if you can't achieve all the things you want to get done. And I also don't think it necessarily means you have to lower your expectations of yourself. Maybe the trick is to eliminate words like, "goal," "standard," and "expectation" from your vocab entirely. And think of a value system that MEANS something to you. What is/are the most important thing(s) in your life at the moment. Start there. Then think of other values you hold near and dear to you and think of ways to factor them into the equation. You're not doing anything, aside from reprioritizing. This might take some of the stress and pressure off.

    I stopped telling myself the "you can do anything you set your mind to." You know why? Because it's the first lesson in failure we learn. Sure, we can strive to go to the moon, work for Elle magazine, be a rock star, but chances are we'll have to wait some tables or take on a "real" job or do something else to make that goal attainable. And then you're still left thinking your idea didn't quite pan out as planned.