Monday, November 2, 2009

Under Pressure

Last Monday I was cleaning our bedroom when The View came on TV. I was only half paying attention as the ladies were covering Hot Topics when they began discussing Halloween. There was the usual chatter about who does what for Halloween, do they let their kids trick-or-treat, do they pass out candy, etc. etc.

When it was Sherri Shepard's turn to speak she revealed that she doesn't dress her small son up for Halloween, nor does she allow him to trick-or-treat. I thought to myself for that split-second that her child was really missing out - traditional Halloween is like a rite of passage in America- when Sherri revealed that the reason why she doesn't allow her son to dress up isn't because Halloween is un-safe, un-religious, or whatever- she said that she doesn't dress him up for Halloween because its yet another time in life where there is just so much pressure to be the best, look the scariest (or if your a woman: sexiest) and spend the most money on the perfect costume and she wants to help her child avoid the pressure since most other pressures in life are inevitable.

The other ladies agreed, remarked on how costumes used to cost under $10.00 and came with a cheap flammable gown of some type and a plastic mask on a string and that was that. Then they move on and the topic was closed.

At least on TV it was. The statement that Sherri made has stuck with me for the past week. And maybe not so much the entire statement as one specific word: pressure.

Pressure swirls around me everyday pushing me and pushing me. For me personally- and maybe for many of you out there in blog land as well- its the pressure to be and HAVE it all.

To be practically perfect in every way.

Of course I know that I'm not- yet I have a really difficult time admitting my weaknesses.

Well sort of. Its kind of like I'm on a perpetual job interview - I'll admit my weaknesses but only if they can also be read as strengths.

I might say: I'm very organized, I'm a stickler for details, I'm always on time, I expect the best from everyone.
What I really mean is: I'm a control freak, I'm anal retentive, I'm disappointed by almost everyone I meet because I have unrealistically high expectations.

Perfection is unattainable but that doesn't stop our desire for it.

Its a little scary to me because its a desire that started slowly within me as a child when I would write notes in class or stories by hand then re-copy them later so that my note book was always freakishly neat. Its snuck up on me for years gradually gaining momentum as I got older evolving from pretty handwriting as a child to more materialistic desires in college.

When I was a freshman in college to me the height of fashion was Express and Nine West. Pantene Pro-V was top of the line hair care and I was sworn to love Max Factor's cosmetics forever. I was sitting in the student union with a girlfriend of mine and she pulled out a small Louis Vuitton from inside her over-sized school tote bag. I had seen other Louis bags around campus and had admired them for their understated elegance but had never thought much about them beyond this. My friend immediately informed me that hers was fake- bought from a street vendor in NYC and I remember thinking to myself, "fake why ever would anyone need to buy a fake bag" as I had not yet become privy to the world of high fashion and its high price tags. I later googled the designer and my innocence was stripped. Nine West purses turned to Kroger bags, Pantene turned to Suave and I was left realizing that there was a whole world out there that I never even knew that I wasn't a part of. Sometimes I wish I still didn't.

Now that I've started my "adult life" its evolved even further the past several years have been dedicated to the pressure to be one step ahead of my boss, to have the best ideas, the best team spirit, to be perceived as bright, pretty, smart, sexy, cute, perky, bubbly, adaptable, structured, in the know, accessorized, stylish and the list goes on and on and on and on.

And I have to admit lately these feelings have been trickling out of my real life and into my blog life. Its the pressure to have the best decorated Christmas tree, the best photographed weekend snapshots, the prettiest outfit for an outdoor wedding, the most expensive handbags in your outfit of the day picture, the most followers, the best giveaways, the quirkiest things to say, the most extravagant wedding, the most weight lost, the most fun family, the cutest baby, the prettiest, cleanest, most expensive house.

Its exhausting!

Aren't we all so damn tired?

I'm going to be completely forthright with you ladies. Not to sound cliche - but I'm just going to keep it real. I don't want to be the girl who tries to keep up with the Jones'. Like Sherri Shepard: I'm not going to add any extra pressure to my life when the rest is unavoidable. So if its alright with you I'm going to keep letting you: my virtual friends (also virtual strangers) into my life but I'm not going to mop, straighten, sweep, re-decorate an area of my house just to take a picture of it. I'm not going to suck in (any more than normal anyway) for pictures of myself that I'm going to post. I'm just going to be me.

An honest to God girl in my mid 20s. Making good money but paying a hecka lotta bills, renting a townhouse instead of owning a home, with no kids, too many cats, watching too much TV, not working out enough, eating Mcgriddles for breakfast too many times a week, only washing my hair every three days, shopping too much, praying too little, sometimes drinking myself into a mess, living a life, loving a man, and trying my best to be a good person one day at atime by dropping a little change in my Karma bank every now and again.

I don't have the answer to how not to succumb to pressure- but I do have a prescip. to Atovan so I think I'm gonna be just fine.

But tell me- don't ya'll feel it sometimes too? How do you shake it off? What gets you over yourself and out of your own way to be the best you that you can be- even if it means (gulp) you're not perfect?


Jax said...

I love this post. LOVE. I definitely agree with you on this.. Often I'm my own worst critic and I have to catch myself striving for perfection in whatever is going on b/c it can get rather unhealthy. And as a funny note.. I used to re-copy my papers, too so the writing would be neater! I read that and gasped!

I totally see their point about the Halloween costumes.. I think there's a way to keep it real without denying their kids halloween costumes, but I totally get their point. :) Good blog, girl.

Anonymous said...

Getting enough sleep, exercising enough, and eating pretty ok help.

Anonymous said...

I love this post and totally agree! I see wehre she's coming from with the costume 'n all, but not to participate at all seems to be teaching him to just give up and not try at all. How about teaching him that stuff doesn't matter and let him have a good time?!

Anyway, I think we are twins: "I might say: I'm very organized, I'm a stickler for details, I'm always on time, I expect the best from everyone.
What I really mean is: I'm a control freak, I'm anal retentive, I'm disappointed by almost everyone I meet because I have unrealistically high expectations." because I am the same way!

Children of the 90s said...

This is a great post, and I totally agree. I hate that feeling of always trying to keep up with Joneses or top others' success, it brings out the worst in us but sometimes you just get sucked into it.

I can definitely relate to being a perfectionist and control freak, too. I've started working on trying to let go a little and just focus on what makes me happy instead of trying to keep up all the time. I wish it was as easy as it sounds, though.

andiecox said...

Love this post! Wait, did I write this? No? You must have just read my mind then. :)

Michelle said...

Girl. I loved this. I love your honesty. Seriously. I agree with you on this and I do feel the pressure too. Even in the blog world. BTW.. NO my eyes are not always that pretty. I photoshop almost every pic! Brighten the eyes, erase the double chin & gap in teeth... Honesty... it's the best policy. Always. I struggle within myself and feel that I'm not liked for who I really am. I feel the need to be bubbly, cute and pretty all the time too. When in reality I just want to sit with my gut out and veg most of the time. I care way too much what other people think, strangers especially when I'm out in public. I don't want people to judge my weight, how cute my boyfriend is, what I am wearing, driving.. etc. This is just the way it is. People watching is part of my daily thing so I really shouldn't get bothered when I catch people watching me. Okay so I'm rambling. Basically.. I've learned that it's best to just be yourself. People will love you for your confidence and self respect. I laugh at myself all the time for being clumsy or dyslexic, although I get embarrased.. I feel that I'm at least showing that it's okay to be imperfect. Just laugh it off. Be yourself and screw the rest!