There was a time in my life when I had proudly mastered the art of multitasking and over-committing. My days and weeks were full of obligations, goals, and accomplishments. I took pride in everything I did. Managing my household, raising our son, being a good wife, being an excellent employee and student. Being the best, I could absolutely be, at any job I ever approached. Always striving to be “good enough” in EVERY area of my life.
One head-on collision and five years later, I am acutely aware that “good enough” is a matter of perception. Who decides? Clearly, the measure of “good enough” is established early on in life. Starting with our parents and caregivers; eventually manifesting in our own self-governing undertone. The constant babble of the inner-critic. Always chattering on about how you will never be enough; continually pointing out your flaws.
These days, the chatter is constantly pointing out how I am generally unable to consistently commit to anything in my life. As I write this, I realize I can commit to some things and some people – specifically my husband and my son. Without fail, I am committed to them, though I struggle to “do” all I would like to do, for them and with them. No longer am I able to be the “overachiever.” No longer am I able to stay distracted by the busyness of life. No longer can I go mindlessly into choice and circumstance. I must find balance.
Yet, I still find myself trying to overcommit and ultimately overachieve. As much as I dislike our cultures addiction to social media; I do love the opportunity to go back and see how far I have come. If I feel I haven’t made progress; I seek the patterns in my life. My pattern? For nearly five years, I have felt like a ship without a port…no destination! No purpose! In the blink of an eye, I lost my identity. I was no longer defined by my job, my education, or my ability to be a good wife and mother. I was simply this empty version of myself with no reflection of who I was or who I should be.
I had never looked at myself outside of the eyes of others. I had always known who I was based on what I could do for others. What I could achieve that would result in some type of positive response. I would sacrifice myself for those I loved and hoped loved me in return. Always putting myself last – never knowing I could love myself. And love myself fully – without the need to achieve. To constantly be “doing.” Only recently, do I see that I have always known love as a conditional response to being “good enough.”
So where does this leave me? Sitting at my desk, realizing that I keep trying to manage myself. Holding myself to some standard; all the while beating myself up when I cannot meet it. I’ve done this my entire life. I’ve never been “good enough” and I’ve been my own torturer for decades. I look back at my Instagram and see all the times that I was going to commit to reading (and finishing) a specific book and never did. This infuriates me. Just like so many other “goals.” My goal to read a book a month – Nope! How about journaling daily – Nope! Writing a blog post a day for a full year – probably NOT!
WHY? The list of things I’m determined to commit to is ridiculously huge!!
Truth is, I accomplish a lot in life – daily and otherwise. Sadly, I focus on where I think I’ve failed, rather than where I have succeeded. (Mind blown!)
I now realize, I’m determined to fill an 8-hour chunk of time each day… with no “wasted” time. All things that are of my choosing. As if, doing so will allow me some peace of mind – free me from shame. Believe me, I know how important it is to be productive and moving forward in this life. I’m all about growth – I embrace it! But once again, I can see that my need to be “perfect” in some way is driving me to overcommit. Full well knowing that I will not be able to follow through. It’s a vicious cycle that ends with me hating myself for not being able to follow through. Only made worse by the fact that I made my goals public! Giving my inner-critic permission to remind me how embarrassing it is to fail and fail publicly.
My shame over public failure pales in comparison to how devastating my private failures are. Truth is, I feel a world of shame for not being able to contribute to our household financially. It destroys me even more that I am unable to manage my household without help from my husband and especially my son. I spent most of my life as a proudly independent female – standing tall in my ability to need no one. It has taken me the last five years to even begin to understand my need for others. Allowing myself to live in the need will certainly take more time.
In the meantime, I am learning to simply “BE,” allowing myself to flow through my day with purpose yet without pressure. I’m finding myself to be more present in every moment; wanting to take it all in. Not wanting to stop and think about what I might write or whether I have my camera handy. These moments will come and I openly invite them. But right now, I can feel that I am meant to focus on the beauty and wonder of it all. I thought I missed out on this moment, as a child. How blessed I am to have a second chance to seek and embrace it now.
No more epic “to-do” lists! No more public declarations of goals! No more feeling inadequate because I cannot measure up to my own standards! No more comparing my goals and accomplishments to others (especially on social media)! I will follow God’s lead and do what is right in every moment. I will read when I’m meant to read. I will write when I’m meant to write. I will follow all my passions when I am meant to do so! But most of all… I will experience life to the fullest!! Without the need to stop and think about how I might post my wonderful memories online.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27