The Baggage of Expectations

Do you ever pray and wonder if you’re heard?

Do you ever look out at the world and wonder what kind of God created humans who can hurt one another the way we do? 

It doesn’t surprise me that ancient Greeks thought multiple gods were warring with one another and using humans to their folly because there are days that would actually make much more sense. Because right now God’s plan seems a little sideways. 

Sorry, God. 

I know you believe in us, and we got this, but there are a lot of people dying and a lot of people hurting and angry. 

It seems like a lot right now.

And then I think we start to wonder what is expected of us and are we measuring up. And I wonder why I expect so damn much of myself. Why do I put so much pressure to measure up? And who created the scale I try to measure up to?

Truth be told, expectations can suck. These past few days, I have been in a spiral of blah. It is what I typically call my not enough-ness acting up. I have been sad, a little lost, and just feeling like no matter what I do, it isn’t enough, and this spiral just so damn repetitive because there is so much that needs to be done both on big and small fronts. 

Some of the thoughts rolling around in my head…

I am not pretty enough. 

I am not thin enough. 

I don’t know enough about marketing to grow my business; therefore, I don’t know enough.

I am crazy because I cannot prove what I do. 

I am not spending enough quality time with my kids.

I am not keeping the house clean enough.

I am not learning enough or doing enough with this time.

I am not helping those that need it enough.

I am not speaking up enough.

I don’t have the right words or ideas.

I am not being a good wife.

I am a horrible friend. 

No one likes me, for me.

My house isn’t clean enough. 

I didn’t do enough today. I watched too much T.V. 

My inner voice is killing me and I am not going to make it and then I feel guilty because really what do I actually have to complain about. I have it pretty great.

UGH! The negative self-talk is endless, and while I am better at not listening, it is still crippling some days. Today was one of those days. I cried a lot.

So I thought maybe I needed a pep talk. And if I needed one, maybe if I wrote it out, it might help someone else, too.

As a recovering perfectionist, I want to deliver a standard of excellence in all I do. However, I spent years, decades believing that what I DID defined who I was, and I could ONLY be good or successful if what I DID was good or successful. Over the last decade, I have diligently and consistently worked to make sure that I do things well.

That has never seemed to be enough because regardless of what I do, there is an emptiness that remains.

For instance, even though I work out – I stress eat and not the nutritional goodies my body needs. Therefore little difference.

Regardless of reading and studying and doing well in college, I now work a job with no measure of proof. People see me as a con artist, a phony, a fake, a liar, and it hurts. Now, I know word of mouth, repeat business, and glowing reviews are measurement, but for a hard-nosed perfectionist like myself, not good enough.

And even when I do well and have a lot of clients, I can never get in enough appointments, and if I do, then I am sacrificing my family and emotional well being, and it is just a vicious cycle or not enough-ness.

And don’t get me started on being enough as a wife and mother. I know it could be worse, but I am failing on the regular. I could go on and on how I could do better there.

I know you are waiting for the pep talk … me, too!

It all starts with a memory…

This past fall, I met one of my favorite writers, Rachel Macy Stafford, at a retreat. As I stood in line to get a copy of her book signed, I wondered what I should say; what I should ask. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, of course.

When it was my turn, we exchanged pleasantries. I am sure I rambled about nothing important as I am socially awkward. 

As we were wrapping up, I told her I was aspiring to be a published author myself. Awkward, right? I am sure she gets that all the time!

She suggested I blog. I told her I did. She asked if anyone read it; I said, yes, but that my words often catch somewhere deep inside me, and they have a tough time escaping even though I am compelled to write.

I asked her if I should keep writing. 

She looked a little taken aback. 

At first, and for several months I would think this was because I asked a dumb question and made a horrible impression. And likely wasted her time because how many people talk to her about the same exact thing I was! After a few moments, Rachel answered that if I was helping one person, I should keep writing. One person was enough to keep going. To keep putting words out into the world.

I thanked her and quickly moved on so that the next person could move up to have their book signed. I always feel like I am in the way and a burden. Learning it is okay to take up space is something I constantly struggle with.

Rachel’s response rattled around in my head for days, months even, because when I became part of her launch team for her new book, Live Love Now, it was still present in my mind. After it was released, Rachel posted how she watched as the world responded to her book and that numbers were not her friend. And her response to my question all those months before crept back into my mind. 

She wasn’t taken aback by my question about how to keep motivated because it was dumb. Instead, she was taken aback because she didn’t know exactly what to say because she struggled with that thought, too. She worries about getting her message out. How will people respond? Will people read it? Will it do well? She cares! Duh! We all do. We aren’t that different.

Thank you for staying with me the pep talk is coming; at least I think so…

Motivation and inspiration are great. They are the spark that ignites us, these things can be the fire that launches us to grow. Downside, motivation, and inspiration are fleeting and sometimes hard to come by.

How we achieve success, how we become productive, the secret is consistency. 

Writers write every day, even if it is terrible, even if it never gets read by anyone else. They keep writing and writing and writing until something clean and clear and golden emerges from the page, and they know they have something to share. 

Fit people, work out, work out, work out. They do something to keep their bodies moving, and they don’t stop or quit. It is routine that they move their body and so they stick to it. 

Neither of these things is easy, and that is why not everyone does it. It takes time, dedication, and consistent effort to produce results. And for most of that time, no one notices, and if they do, it isn’t to say, “Great job, keep going!” It is usually to say, “Why do you keep doing that?” or “Come out to eat with me.” or “Can’t you just skip your workout today and come out with us?” We can easily be derailed. And criticism comes easily from both in our heads and out in the world.

But it isn’t motivation that keeps us going. It may get us started or be used to propel us forward, but the day in, day out continuation comes from something more profound.

It is the joy, the love, the feeling we get from doing the things that matter most to us. It is knowing in our hearts that we are the best versions of ourselves when we complete or have these activities in our day. Whether cooking, cleaning, writing, creating, running, weightlifting, nutrition, advertising, engineering, we do the things we love because there is a call deep inside of us that we answer day after day no matter what might stand in our way. And it is the consistency of showing up even when we don’t want to, even when we aren’t feeling it that catapults one into success.

So I don’t know how to motivate you to do something. And I am not sure that motivation will keep you doing that something, either. But I do know if you commit to something if you want it because it makes a difference to you and you alone, you will continue to do it day after day no matter what. You will make time for it. You will put yourself through the work for it. You will show up and get it done. And what is more, you won’t stop.

You may struggle. You may get caught up in what others think. You may get caught up in what you think. Expectations of what could or should be are a trap! 

You may tear yourself down before you decide to stand back up. You may stop and start again. But it is the constant motion toward doing what you feel you are supposed to do that matters.

Do you try your absolute hardest? 

Do you give it all you have? 

Do you work and learn and grow through it? 

Are you showing up in a way that is kind, helpful, generous, trustworthy, respectful, vulnerable, and open-minded? 

If so, then that is enough. You are doing what you can with what you have been given, and that is enough. That is all anyone can ask of you. Keep going. Keep creating. Keep being you. And if you stop, if you rest, if you fall, if you forget, keep trying to find your way back. Keep getting back up. Keep going toward who you want to be. You will get there, and everyone stumbles along the way. And stop thinking about what could or should be. What you did and what you do is enough. 

The truth is we just have to be okay with who we are. We have to drop expectations and just accept who we are. We have to search for joy and hold on to hope.

Weird, but yesterday, I ran my fastest 5k in a long time, and my average pace was 11 minutes and 11 seconds; 11:11, that is not a coincidence,  (I never said I was fast). Then to top it off, the song that came on at the precise moment I finished my run was No Judgment by Niall Horan. 

I have mentioned before that I turn my playlist over to God and pray that a message comes through. It has been weeks since I feel like I have had a response. But I keep running, keep praying, keep listening, and yesterday with an average pace of 11:11 I hear…

When you’re with me, no judgment

You can get that from anyone else

You don’t have to prove nothing

You can just be yourself

I think that all this isn’t okay, but we are going to survive it. We have one another and ourselves, and we are enough to get through the storm. If we consistently show up as ourselves each day and do our best, it is enough. Even if we feel like our prayers aren’t heard; they are. We will get an answer back. We just need to keep going and take each moment as it comes and handle it the best way we know how. 

Love to you and yours,


 

3 thoughts on “The Baggage of Expectations

  1. I needed this today, really since the last month!! Thank you for providing the words we need to read and hear. Love you!!!

  2. I really needed that pep talk at the end Michelle! In the process of moving back to my mothers house, feeling like THE biggest loser, etc…so many issues there. I have to remember that I’m only 5 months from my 3rd back surgery! I just get so angry & frustrated. Sorry…rambling! Anyways, thanks! I needed that! You rock!

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