I expect nothing less than perfection from myself. I must be the perfect daughter, friend, spouse, employee, and on and on it goes. It is exhausting. I am afraid to let go of my unreasonably high expectations of myself though for fear that if I do, I will no longer be as good as I am. I have always believed deep down that if I were to ease up on myself, even a little bit, I would lose my drive to succeed. Frankly, this is just not true. When I stop to really consider the question, “Am I good enough?” the answer is always a resounding yes. I am enough. I am more than enough. And so are you.
On the topic of expectations, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
We don’t need anyone else to criticize us. We have so many superhuman expectations of ourselves that the expectations of others pale into insignificance. We really believe that we should be able to handle everything. We really believe we should know everything. We really believe that we should be on top of everything. When we are caught unprepared, instead of just admitting it, we either get defensive or feel guilty (or both). It rarely occurs to us just to admit we are unprepared. We feel we should always be prepared for anything. (No control issues here!)
Often I feel this way at work. I berate myself endlessly for minor mistakes or simply not knowing the correct answer to a question when, in truth, I am still early in my career and just learning. How would anyone expect me to have all of the answers? Of course they don’t. So why then do I? It’s okay to admit that I don’t have all the answers because obviously none of us do! As long as we give our best effort to the tasks at hand and try to learn as we go, we are doing all right.
My expectations for myself as a woman and wife in particular come from my mother who was a full-time homemaker and perfectionist control freak herself. She kept our house immaculate, scrubbing the floor on her hands and knees daily and waxing it weekly. She had dinner ready on the table every night, and packed my father’s lunch each morning before he went off to work. As both my husband and I work full-time, we have always shared our household responsibilities equally (as we should). Of course it’s unreasonable to expect that I could ever live up to my mom’s high standards of cleanliness, working full-time as I do. I see that now, but there was a time when I didn’t. I felt pressured to keep the house spotless.
More and more, I am becoming okay with the idea of “good enough.” I no longer spend my weekends scrubbing every surface until they shine. Nor do I waste hours dissecting my emails before I send them at work. People are reasonable. They will understand if you make a mistake. To err is to be human, and no one will judge or think any less of you for simply being human. If they do, they are probably assholes who are not worth your time or energy anyway.