On Sunday I was trying to plan for the week ahead and reflect on life. I had a mug of hot chocolate, blank sheets of paper and a bit of quiet. It was lovely – until she showed up. Have you met her? She writes my to-do lists and plans my schedule. She seems very helpful and she’s quite the motivator.
She is the girl who lives in my mind. She has very high expectations. She shows me the person I should be and she reminds me of all the ways I fall short. Every new year’s resolution, each grand plan and turned leaf is born out of my failure to be the woman of my dreams.
The woman of my dreams
Do you want to know what I’m like in my dreams?
I exercise every day. I eat food that is natural, organic, delicious and I never eat more than I need. I have a tidy house which is beautiful and inspiring. I enjoy being outdoors in any weather. I have lovely hair and excellent skin. My clothes are subtly stylish, ethically produced and they are exactly ‘me’.
I feed my children nourishing food which they love. I clean up immediately after they spill things. I create a playful environment for the kids and speak to them in a calm and cheerful voice. I tell people that being a Mum is the best job in the world and I never feel bored or uninspired. Dave and I have a great marriage – we are fun and serious, loving and understanding. We have plenty of time together.
I wake early (because other people say that’s how to be really effective). I read the bible every day, I pray regularly for all my family and my friends. I do a bible time with the kids each day. I’m the kind of Christian who is godly and gentle, who lives a life connected to God. I used to doubt sometimes but I’ve worked through them. I am sure of my beliefs but they never offend anyone. I am conservative enough to fit in with my evangelical friends and progressive enough to fit in with my liberal friends. All Christians feel they can fit with me. There is no question that I know Jesus. In fact, you would envy our closeness.
I serve at church, notice new people and speak to them with confidence knowing just the questions to ask. I work hard in the background and encourage the leaders.
I read for pleasure and to stretch my mind. I write every day. I send letters, answer emails, remember birthdays, answer the phone and reply to every blog comment.
I see my friends regularly and care for them in meaningful ways. I always show my family how important they are to me.
I use money wisely and never just leave all the financial thinking to Dave. I’m both generous and frugal. I don’t waste money, food, time or paper.
I don’t forget things. I have space in my diary for everyone. I’m flexible, spontaneous and organised. I always sign forms from school and remember dinner money and non-uniform days. I’m a useful and well-informed addition to the governing body.
I create. I finish each project I start. I know what all the functions on my camera do. I make things which are always both beautiful and practical.
I never go months between plucking my eyebrows, blow drying my hair or shaving my legs.
A dream or a nightmare?
What do you think of the woman I dream of being?
Her individual qualities are beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to be a wonderful friend and have gorgeous hair? But her demands are incessant – it’s all or nothing. She’s sort of a tyrant. Nowhere in her list of attributes is admission of weakness or acceptance of failure. For her, it’s not enough to manage a little bit sometimes – she wants it all and she is never satisfied.
The problem with the woman I dream of being is that she is not me. She asks a lot. I have let this imaginary woman steal my happiness as she shows me all the ways I am not like her. I’ve have listened when she tells me that I must be fat, useless and weak because I’ve failed her test again. I have believed her when she tells me everyone else achieves her standards. I have tried to tick the boxes on her to-do list. She beats me up and knocks me down. My happiness is her greatest enemy.
She’s clever, the dream girl in my mind. She tells me, “just do this little thing. Just make this small change. Just try a bit harder”. She makes it all sound so easy, so reasonable, so achievable. That’s how she tricks me and convinces me through dissatisfaction to just try a little harder.
Killing the dream
So I’ve taken drastic action. I’ve staged a coup. I’ve got her gagged and bound in the basement of my mind. I’m making a new start. Because she isn’t real – I am. Hairy legs and all.
to be continued… (the next post in the series is here)
but for now I’d love to know your thoughts:
- Do you aspire to be a ‘better’ version of yourself?
- Are your expectations of yourself kind, realistic and inspiring or do they serve to discourage and dishearten you?
- Are you self-assured or do you look to others for affirmation?
- How much do other people’s opinions of you (real or imagined) determine the decisions you make and the way you behave?
- Have you got any tips for making goals in a less self-flagelating way?!