this month's collab for Dear X - Expectations.
Note to Self
we need to talk about this expectations thing, you and i. yeah, yeah, i know - you and me, you bitchy grammar perfectionist. see? this is what i mean. could you just let up for a minute, for a *second*, on the unrelenting rules? damn. sometimes it just sounds better in the incorrect form. have a little respect for artistic license.
so you grew up having people expect the world of you. your parents and your teachers thought you were brilliant, destined for greatness. how do you know that's really what they wanted of you? could it be, perhaps, that this is just how you interpreted their statements? after all, the more powerful demands seemed to come from the unspoken sentiments. and last time i checked, you were no mind reader. perhaps they were just trying to encourage you, and would have been just as happy with lesser achievements.
you don't think that's true, do you? you think that anything less than your very best would have been a disappointment to your parents. hey, news flash: they wouldn't have stopped loving you. you do know that, don't you? parents love their children, faults and all. they just do. it's part of the parent gig. love the kid, even if you're mad at them for not taking out the trash or getting an A. they would have kept right on being your parents.
ah, but you watched your parents try to be perfect for their own parents, with mixed results. your mom was a good daughter; her parents seemed to be happy with her. they had a good relationship, your mom and her parents. and that's what you wanted. your dad, on the other hand, seemed to have not measured up somehow. he was always at odds with his parents. every visit was a confrontation. and you tried to stay out of the way, but it never really worked. even trying to stay out of the way, you always got yelled at too, as if you were being held to the same torch light of inspection as your dad. never mind that years later you understand that his mother was a raving bitch who had no favorites when it came to her anger. that first early impression (or is it scar?) is still there, at a level where reason does little to alter it.
so you had two very different models, each of which provided its own motivation. you wanted to have the easy, open relationship you saw in your mom's family. and at all costs, you wanted to avoid the emotional ground zero of your dad's family. not such an easy task, that. you hate that the clichè of 'the apple never falling far from the tree' is true. it's such a glib, easy description for a far more complicated reality. your father to some degree became the very thing he was struggling against - as did you. you are your father's daughter in spades, my dear. and this doesn't fit your little ordered world of perfection, does it? but here's the rub - you want the perfection precisely because you are so like him. nice little catch-22, isn't it? live with it. it's not the end of the world.
what exactly is it you think you should be doing with your life that you aren't? did you think for some reason that you should have become the fabulously talented and driven career woman who eats interns for breakfast and stomps over the competition, while maintaining a solid marriage and raising three perfect children, and finding time for a fulfilling personal life of her own?
three words for you, m'dear.
Get. Over. It.
we seldom become the thing we think we should. and beating yourself up because you don't measure up to the mind-numbingly exacting and high ideals that you sometimes have gets you nowhere. the consistency thing, by the way, is a problem. if you think there's somewhere you need to get, then decide on it, and get there. you go from having inhuman demands of yourself on Monday to being pleased that you managed to microwave dinner on Tuesday.
be realistic. take a good honest look at who you are and where you are. give yourself credit for what you have accomplished. you have family and friends who love you, you're well employed, you look out for yourself in a pretty damn fine fashion, you're talented, attractive and compassionate, and you're becoming a fine writer. just soak in that for a minute, okay?
now, think about what would make your life more fulfilling. do you want to focus more on your friends? do you want to really and truly find a new job? do you want to give more back to the community? do you want to finally open up to spiritual pursuits? what you want to learn or accomplish that would help you reach these goals? hey, hey - in small, human bite-size chunks, okay? set a few reasonable steps for yourself. hm. well, since i think you might need a little help with this, here are my suggestions.
1. lose those 15 pounds that you want to lose. do it the right way - get back to the gym, make a few changes in your diet, and be gentle with yourself. you are the only one who can make your body a self-image problem. remember to love yourself, no matter what your weight.
2. set up your new domain. learn the tools you need, like JAVA and PERL, and get that puppy up and running. you remember the adrenaline rush you always get when you master a new skill? well, you can get that, and have fun doing it. you love this journal, and learning how to grow it will also let you grow.
3. give yourself a chance to explore the spirituality you crave. you kick yourself for turning to it only in the really hard moments. so, stop kicking yourself. make time to learn and stretch and grow and explore. just give yourself 15 minutes a day. and if you miss a day, do not, repeat, *do not* beat yourself up or give up. it's a process, doll, just like any other thing you've taken on.
4. remember, when you look in the mirror in the morning, that that's a good person looking back at you. love her with all your heart. because she deserves it.
love and kisses,
your other half