A good friend from work had the fantastic suggestion a few weeks ago that I write about expectations and it just so happens that I was struck with the lightning bolt of inspiration today. I think it’s probably pretty evident by now that I have a lot of expectations for myself. I feel like I always have, but I will admit that since I started blogging it’s gotten worse. I love blogging. It’s a huge passion and the amazing feedback I get back from people on how my story has helped is beyond incredible. Unfortunately, and because of total fault of my own, having too high of expectations is also a side effect.
Whenever I make a mistake or a bad judgement call, I feel like I’m what Holden Caulfield would call a “phony.” I feel like I’m not living up to the practice I preach about here. I even feel like a bad person. How can I give people advice on how to live more fully or live a better life when I myself am making mistakes?
At the same time though, I want to make mistakes and I want to write about them because I don’t want others to think I’m always spouting Oprah or living my life like a saint because that couldn’t be further from the truth. If I want to be truly authentic, I have to acknowledge all parts of me and the reality is that I do screw up and have done some not so nice things sometimes. And I think people would much rather take advice or read someone’s story who has made mistakes and can relate to their struggles. Not someone who has always done the right thing their whole life.
To expect myself to be perfect and always do the right thing is not just draining, it’s pretty much impossible too. None of us are mistake-free and none of us are perfect, whether we blog or not. I can’t worry my life away because I’ve set and expect myself to meet these impossible standards, and I don’t think anyone else wants me to either (at least no one who truly knows and cares about me).
Sometimes I think when people have told you throughout your life how “nice” or “sweet” you are, when you do something that’s neither or those things, it’s easy to beat yourself up about them even more because you feel like you’re not living up to what others have pegged you as or expected you to be either.
The thing is, being a nice person and making mistakes aren’t mutually exclusive. Just because I screw up sometimes doesn’t mean that I’m not a nice or well-intentioned person. It just means I’m human. I have a really hard time grasping that sometimes.
I don’t place such impossible standards on other people for the most part, even when I should sometimes (remember that whole being too nice thing?). So why should I be placing them on the one person I really need to love…myself?
This hasn’t been an easy lesson for me at all and it’s a daily process and struggle to not expect quite so much out of myself. It’s always great that we strive to be the best person we can be, but that doesn’t mean that “best person” is perfect and never makes mistakes. It means that person takes those mistakes and learns from them and moves forward. It means they’re human and it means they’re true to themselves…flaws and all. So here’s to giving ourselves a little TLC and being ok with just being us, mistakes and all.