So, a few weeks ago I posted that I was in the beginning stages of reading a new book Van Gogh: The Life. It’s a hefty read at over 900 pages and since I prefer audiobooks, the reading is going a bit slow. Yesterday morning on my way to work I decided to take a break from the book and go to the library to pick up some magazines to flip through during the evening. I grabbed new and old mags including Self, Woman’s Day, More, Martha Stewart Living, and Allure.
By 10 PM, I’d dropped my last magazine on the floor. And I was a bit aggravated. At first I wasn’t sure why. But by this morning it dawned on me.
Ahem…As I step high upon my soapbox I welcome you to today’s post. Warning: now may be a good time to start running for the hills before it’s too late!
Before I begin, I want to make clear that I’m not posting a belief that magazines were created to show us just how ordinary, boring and average we are compared to the beauties, thrill seekers and go-getters I kept reading about last night – although I do admit to sometimes feeling that way. No, this post is more about why being considered normal is somehow just not good enough. People are considered less-than because they aren’t doing it ALL:
Don’t I want to break through that glass ceiling? Get to the top of that corporate ladder? I need to work harder, perform better, be smarter, stay later and dress for success.
Didn’t you know that it’s considered blasphemy to call yourself a Good Parent? Now you have to be known as the Best Parent in the World (can also substitute ‘best’ for Coolest, Greatest, Most Fun to Be With - your choice).
Want to lose weight? Well, it isn’t good enough to lose 30, 50, or 80 pounds. It seems as though I also have to become an avid runner or join a cycling club. Then I need to enter multiple marathons. Then I have to keep beating my previous times.
Don’t forget meals. Apparently, fragrant homemade meals are key in keeping families together. It has to taste sinfully good and scream healthy, and look like it just stepped out of Martha Stewart’s kitchen. So, I’d best start learning how to flip those snowflake-shaped flapjacks next to that pure maple syrup I should be extracting from that tree outside.
What about exercise? Making an effort to getting up and moving every day it seems, is unacceptable. Now, I have to squeeze in
30, 45, 60 minutes of cardio 5 days a week; cram in some strength training; don’t forget about Yoga (my mental health counts too, you know) and make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
Don’t forget about my wild and crazy side! I need to get out there and mountain climb; book a flight to climb Kilimanjaro; get my rear end to the Galapagos before it gets overrun by all those darned tourists. Oh, and why not learn to speak another language while I’m at it?
So, let’s recap: since we are now newly titled as Best Parents Ever and Employees of the Month (for the third time this year), Marathon Runners, Master Cyclists, Culinary Chefs, Master Yogis, French speaking buffed-out Gods(or Goddesses), we should be feeling pretty rested, what with all that sleep we’re obviously getting, right?
*Whew* Between us, I do believe that this post contains more sarcasm than all of my past writings put together.
OK. Here’s what I’m really trying to get across: while magazines don’t help any, they aren’t the only culprit. I see people who constantly compare themselves to other people, and I have been known to do this as well; it’s just plain human nature. If He or She is doing this or that, then there must be something lacking within me. I must find a way to be strong enough/smart enough to do it, too. The problem is, no one can do it all. If we spent all of our time trying to do what’s considered ‘enough’, which is essentially everything that’s supposed to turn us into better, well-rounded people, we’d simply never get anything done!
Consider this post an introduction to my Hate-Loss Challenge that’s coming up in January. For the next couple of weeks I think we should stop comparing ourselves to the marathon blogger we read about and embrace the fact that there’s nothing wrong with just running for fun, if that’s what we want to do.
Maybe take it easy on yourself and quit comparing yourself to other parents and the things you think you should be doing with your children. Take pride in the fact that one of the great things about being a parent is that there will always be opportunities to teach them how to become better human beings.
Don’t look down on ourselves because we’re not thrill-seekers or great adventurers. Be happy that our genetic makeup is what keeps us from going beyond the guard-rail and teetering at the edge of the Grand Canyon. There is nothing wrong with us.
Finally, I say think – really think about the things that you want to do in your life. For You. Because you want to. Not because you’ve seen or read or heard that you should be doing these things.
Life is too short to feel guilty about the things you haven’t done. It’s your precious time that’s being filled, so fill that life with things that are meaningful to you.
As for me? Let me find peace with my decision to do cardio only 3 days a week for 30 minutes because it’s just as important to me that I paint. Allow me to forgive myself for not focusing more on my career because if I did, then this blog would have never existed. And right now it makes more sense to use my extra cash for Yoga classes instead of saving it for that trip to Wherever-Land because right now this is what I need.
It’s not easy, learning to be enough; but I think being enough is really an all right place to be.
What do you think about this? Do you ever feel like you should be doing more or compare yourself to others?