Dec 8, 2014

Grounded and Well-Rounded?

If you have been on the internet at all, you will know that there is this comparison game that is running amok. Some of the strongest versions of it manifest themselves as the "Mommy Wars", but to exclude men from this is a bit narrow minded. We want women to be business oriented, have a thriving career, maintain a perfect house decorated in the latest Pottery Barn decor, and raise musical/athletic/scholarly artists who provide community service. Men are supposed to have jobs that challenge them as well, let them be in charge of things of significance but come home as energetic and compassionate people who help make dinner, play catch with the kids, whisk them up for story time and tucking into bed. Don't forget that homework gets accomplished during this time with joyful and eager expressions.

All the while, each member in this idealistic family smile and cheerfully engage in conversation and obedient behavior. 

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But being that well-rounded doesn't happen. In teaching high school students, I see them trying to achieve all of this - after all, that's what college is all about, right? They are exhausted, their parents are exhausted. Somehow, in an effort to be everything every article on the internet says we are to be, we have a society of frantic people trying to fit everything in via last minute efforts of accomplishment, most of which don't present themselves with equal satisfaction. 

More often than not, the things, the people, we care about most are the ones who become the hill bearing the weight of our well-roundedness. And if we make it to the top, if we can balance that stone there, in front of us is another stone, another hill, another person we are supposed to be. 

What if, instead, we as a society took a step back and became grounded in the things where we have a natural aptitude, the things that bring us joy, the things that let us have deeper, more meaningful relationships with the people we love? 

For example, I'm deficient in the talents that have a more of a domestic nature. I'm a pretty decent cook, a less decent baker. I deep clean well, clutter clean sporadically. I'm a devoted friend, but get burned out quickly during this season of never-ending mix and mingles. 

Yes, there are other things I could be good at, but where I'm at, right now, fills the necessary cups of self-worth, and fill my days with work I feel to be productive and beneficial. 

I challenge you to take an inventory of your life for just a minute. 

* How are your personal relationships? If they could be improved, how so? What would you cut to do that?

* How satisfied are you with the work you do right now that fills your 9-5 time? Is it something you see being equally satisfying five years down the road? If not, what can you do now to change that and what plans are necessary for the future? 

* Does each day pass by in a frantic pace? Is this caused by your choices or determined by others who impact you daily? 

* At the end of each day, do you reflect on what you accomplished and feel satisfied? Do you feel like the harder you work, the further behind you get? How could you change that?

I can't answer all of these in a manner that is satisfactory for where I want to be. But compared to where I was even a year ago, I'm getting closer. And I think that's the key - to keep moving toward a goal, a dream, a life that is nearer to what we hope for. 

How have you filtered unrealistic expectations from your own life? What techniques have you learned to hang on to those dreams when life doesn't seem to have the same plan?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Parents with kids in multiple activities - I don't know how they do it. I'd go nuts.
I'm pretty grounded right now. I've learned when to say no and keep myself from becoming overwhelmed. Although even I overstretch online sometimes.

Blair B. Burke said...

I couldn't agree more. When I look at my friends who try to do everything, I never feel the least bit of jealously towards their fabulous lives: exotic vacations, eating out constantly, going to concerts, kid's sporting events, etc. For all that success and fun, they always sound exhausted and miserable. The happy people I know are the ones, like myself, who engage only as much as keeps them happy, and enjoy the lives that they have without comparison to outside standards.

Charlotte said...

This is all great. However, my biggest take-away from this is that someday, if only for the sake of cleanliness, you and I should share a house. I'm GREAT at de-cluttering, but absolutely detest deep cleaning. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

When I look back on the years when we had four very active kids, both worked full time, both of us coaching, taking care of a big house and property and I was writing, I don't know how we made it through each day.
Things are calmer now but the day is still never long enough.