So, it’s been about a month since I made my New Year’s Resolutions for 2024. You’ll remember my mantra for 2024, “Find me a straight river?” Well, now that all the activity of the holidays is over and the dust has settled (figuratively and literally!), I find myself right back in my old routines…which…is the problem. So how long was that? A little under 4 weeks of intentionally trying to recognize all the big and beautiful things that make me the unique person I am…finding courage to try new things and the grace to fail…allowing my life to ebb and flow where it can and must…ya…not long eh?!?
In the last 4 weeks, while struggling to work through what it means to accept me for me, to love who I am not who others want me to be, I’ve made an interesting discovery. What I’ve discovered is perhaps the biggest obstacle in the way of me ACTUALLY accepting my meandering path and finding the resolution to try new things or even to try things a new way…is…drumroll please…expectations! I’m pretty darn comfortable running and climbing as fast and hard as I can, the way I always have. Trying hard to get just a bit higher on that proverbial ladder…when the whole time not even aware the ladder is just a giant spinning WHEEL!?!? #whoknew You name it, the expectations I’ve set for myself are high…my career, my family, my accomplishments, my relationships, my home, my physical fitness, my health…the list goes on. I’m beginning to realize these patterns of thinking and measures of establishing self-worth based on my achievements are driven by expectations…ones I’ve set and ones I’ve allowed others to set for me.
I know my expectations can exhaust me. I know my expectations can be unrealistic and even unkind…to myself. I know some of my expectations come out of a place of feeling inadequate, feeling like I can never live up to what I “should” be, so I keep trying to be someone and do something more than I currently am to sway the balance…anyone else?? Ya…I thought so.
When I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, my boys were 4 and 7…and not a word of a lie…I could out-play them…I had oooodles of energy…was always up for an adventure…always ready to take on whatever their little energizer-bunny bodies could throw at me!! I loved all of it and couldn’t wait to try and keep up with them for the rest of my life!
So, you can imagine, that when I was diagnosed with RA, and although I found it difficult and quite frankly embarrassing, that I couldn’t dress myself, the HARDEST part by FAR was that I couldn’t run around with my boys all day.
“I could no longer live up to the expectations I had set for myself as a mother. I had a pre-constructed an idea of what my life was going to be like. What kind of mother I was going to be. What kind of things I would do and if I’m honest, how fast and how well I would do them. Goals made. Expectations set. Left, right, left, right, higher, faster, stronger, better…it couldn’t be any other way. Right? Wrong.”
Expectations, or the strong belief that something will happen, can guide us and aren’t all bad. For example, I’m expected to show up for work at a certain time and am expected to adhere to policies, follow procedures and employ certain techniques (very good idea in my line of work) to do the job I’ve been asked to do. But those aren’t the expectations I’m talking about…
I wonder if expectations take us in the wrong direction, push us to unnecessary exhaustion or deceive us into thinking we’re not “enough,” when they don’t come out of a healthy place or when set by a person who doesn’t have our best interests in mind.
Who sets the expectations for you in your life? You? Your spouse? Your family? Your kids? Hollywood? Facebook? Instagram? Your postal code? Maybe you didn’t realize that someone else was setting expectations in your life…or maybe you didn’t realize there was an option to lower/raise or simply change the expectations YOU put on your life…
So where am I going with all of this???
Do you think you’re enough?
I mean right now.
You…the incredible you that you are…do you believe you are enough? Or do you give in too often to that voice in the back of your head that whispers, “you’re letting yourself (or someone) down, push harder, climb higher, be different, be better…” and once again find yourself one step closer to getting back on that spinning wheel?
I know too well that life can “interrupt” plans, goals, trajectories, and I know how hard it can be when the interruption feels severe, like a train careening off the tracks at the speed of sound. An adjustment requiring top-to-bottom rethinking and re-evaluating who we are and where we fit into this world. We’re forced to re-organize and rejig expectations…to learn and re-learn how to love and accept ourselves again and again. Hard, hard stuff.
BUT!! This also provides us the liberty and license to redefine who we are, set new goals, head off on brilliant, new, and exciting paths leading to…well…I guess time will tell?? A life of discovering new talents, making new connections, finding new perspectives…
To all my friends who, like myself, struggle to manage expectations and yet still yearn to grow and change…to those of you who, like me, find it hard to accept this new path and way of seeing life, may this be the year you see the wisdom in giving yourself the grace to step to the left and embrace the warmth and comfort of the wood shavings.
person with rheumatoid arthritis