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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Warning: ranty material ahead.

I love Corey from Simple Marriage. You know that. I keep linking to his site and raving about all the wisdom he offers. I adore his blog and feel he has given me so much.

But recently he wrote a post entitled A Good Marriage is the Enemy of a Great Marriage.

It’s a good post, don’t get me wrong. But in truth, this kind of post is the kind of thing that destroys me.

And I’m seeing it everywhere: “Be excellent.” “Be better than you are.” “Excel at all you do, plus more.” These are the messages I get everywhere I turn, especially from the blogosphere. Everyone is offering to teach me how I can become better. Because apparently, I’m not good enough.

All the other marriage blogs want you to have “stupendous” and “extraordinary” marriages. The people who write them are wonderful, brilliant, ambitious people, and I admire them. And their philosophy probably works wonders for certain people.

But for people like me, it’s unspeakably taxing.

I was born a die-hard perfectionist. My Mom tells me that when I was two I refused to say aloud any word I couldn’t perfectly pronounce. On the second day of kindergarten I cried because I couldn’t read yet. In first grade I cried because I couldn’t draw my favourite cartoon character. Ever since I can remember, I have striven for distinction in all I do, and have demanded nothing less than perfection from myself. In the last nineteen years of my life I have constantly pressured myself to be an exceptional student. In my adult life I have striven to be an extraordinary cook, and impeccable housekeeper, a successful writer, an accomplished artist, and a perfect wife.

It’s killing me, man. I can’t do it. I’ve never been able to do it. I’m not extraordinary.

I can’t even remember what if feels like to not be under constant pressure – pressure to achieve more, to impress more, to produce more. I live in constant despair over not being good enough.

This is a taste of what goes through my mind every single day:

“You are not achieving enough.”

“It’s your fault you’re not successful.”

“You don’t work hard enough. You’ll never succeed at this rate.”

Honestly, the last thing I need to hear is that my marriage isn’t good enough!

I would give anything to hear just one voice say, “Your marriage is good enough. You’re achieving plenty. Sometimes satisfactory is good enough. Kathleen, sometimes you need to be happy with ‘pretty OK.’”

Since no one is telling me this, I guess it’s up to me to step up and tell myself:

You’re doing fine. You don’t need to conquer the world. You don’t need to be extraordinary. Just be happy for once.

God doesn’t care if you never publish a book or get a thousand pageviews on your blog. He doesn’t care if you never become a public figure or tour the country giving important talks. He doesn’t care if you never get your PhD. All he wants is for you to love him.

And your marriage is fine. You’re still together and you care for each other, right? And you’re committed to stay that way, right? Good enough.

Chill.

At this point, I just want to be able to make it through each week without killing myself. I often have to tell myself at the beginning of each morning, “If I make it through this day alive I will have succeeded. I will have accomplished my goal.”

I wish sometimes that other people would affirm this as a legitimate goal.

Sometimes I wonder if we don’t need to be taught to just be content – to settle a little bit. Sometimes I wonder if our culture puts too much pressure on us to be extraordinary, sensational, magnificent  . . . more than human.

But “pretty OK” isn’t good enough for most people. We’re told we can “do anything.” Maybe I’m drifting off topic here, but sometimes I also wonder if it wouldn’t be healthier to be told you aren’t actually capable of absolutely anything: some things are just out of your control. I sometimes think all this “You can do anything” stuff breeds a lot of self-loathing when we don’t succeed.

Since I’m told that I can do anything, I blame myself when I can’t.

I blame myself for being unable to conceive a child.

I blame myself for having acne.

I blame myself for not being a famous writer/blogger.

Since I’m told I should be able to do anything, I understand the above shortcomings as personal failures. But maybe it’s not my fault. Maybe these things really are out of my control.

So last night at 2 a.m., as I rocked myself to sleep, I decided that I am going to do an experiment. For the next week, whenever I start thinking my usual bad thoughts, I am going to repeat these things:

Kathleen, you are good enough.

You do not have to be famous. You can die without ever landing a book deal and you will be just fine.

You can perfectly happy with “OK.”

Even if no one else likes you, God does. And he’s the only one who really matters. He never said you had to be extraordinary.

Oh, and your marriage is pretty downright a-ok. In fact, it’s peachy.

If this new kind of thinking causes me to be less “successful” – to achieve less, to sink even deeper into obscurity – that’s probably OK. I can’t possibly be any unhappier than I am right now, so you can bet that if I fall off the radar I am probably better off in my new universe of “pretty OK.”

I’ll let you know in a week what I discover.  Maybe.

And if it works, I’m going to introduce a new focus on achieving “the pretty OK in marriage.”

Does anyone else ever feel like this, too, or am I alone in this?

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