As I sat down, I mean really sat down - the kind of sitting down where you’re under a warm blanket and you no longer have to check email or clean anything or answer any questions - I thought to myself, I cannot believe how late it is already.
It was only 7 pm.
The night before, on Tuesday, I recalled thinking “... this week has been exhausting, good thing it’s nearly the weekend.”
It was Tuesday.
For a long time now, I’ve allowed myself to think that this is all just par for the course. I’ve always been an overachiever, “Type A,” involved in it all kinda gal, so naturally, my days were long… but just look at all I’d have to show for it!
Dark circles under my eyes at 28. Crying in the mall parking lot, for really no reason, in response to my mom asking me how my day was on a Saturday. Snapping at my boyfriend for asking “so many questions”. And of course, there was the time I had a full-blown mental breakdown because I dropped my smoothie on the bathroom floor while I was doing my makeup.
Why do we set such high expectations of ourselves? Why do we allow ourselves to think that we have to do it all - all the time?
As women, we often ask ourselves and one another if our expectations are too high when it comes to love, marriage, dating, our careers, our bodies. But do we ever ask ourselves if our expectations are too high of ourselves?
We’ve come a long way. We’re no longer only expected to be doting housewives and mothers - and that’s a good thing! But here’s the problem - we’re now a generation desperate to become the doting housewife, mother, career woman, organic chef, personal fitness expert, and fashion superstar… all at once.
And the best part: we somehow believe that we have to do it all without ever asking for help. That we would appear weak. And we are not weak (see: personal fitness expert).
The very real facts are clear: no human can work a 60-hour week and maintain the same level of parenting, cleaning, cooking and fashion expertise that they could if they let something slip. This kind of balancing act is not just unsustainable but unrealistic… impossible.
But as women, we stand there trying to balance it all. We maintain these unrealistic expectations of ourselves and when something slips, or we feel our mental sanity colliding against the wall, we criticize ourselves and others.
Because what’s worse than not being perfect?
There are a million and one ways we can solve this “women’s problem” that our country faces. And we are out there fighting that fight every single day. But this year, I challenged myself to something: I am working on resetting my expectations of myself.
Solving our problem starts with ourselves. We need to recognize and acknowledge that this quest for perfection is bullshit. It’s a myth. No one can do it all. We need to ask for help. We need to let things slip. We need to take an honest look at the to-do list and instead of thinking that every single item on it is necessary for survival, delegate or eliminate.
There is not a single woman out there that can have it all. And the longer we use that phrase as our standard of success, both at home and at work, we are only perpetuating the myth and condemning ourselves - and our daughters - to a life of burnout and failure.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.
I’m tired of crawling into bed with a completed to-do list and burning eyes. I’m tired of feeling like if my boyfriend asks me just one more question I might scream. I’m tired of worrying about whether or not I’m good enough. And I’m most certainly tired of saying all of this outloud, and hearing the voice on the other end of the table tell me I’m “amazing” and “you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to,” and then not listening because I am so horribly afraid of failure or not being good enough.
So this year, I’m resetting my expectations of myself. It’s my year of no. Because if it’s not “hell yes,” and if it’s going to drain me, why am I doing it?