Can’t Be Everything to Everyone
When I was growing up my teachers would often put “conscientious student” in the comments section. I figured since I didn’t see the words “terrible” or “awful” or “worst student we’ve ever seen” I was doing pretty good. However, I never really took the time to figure out what that meant – I just knew that I would see it year after year on almost every single one of my report cards. Fast forward 13 years later and as I find myself in and out of the hospital with our youngest daughter I think I may have finally figured out what that word “conscientious” really means.
Ever since I stumbled into adulthood I have thought of myself as a self proclaimed perfectionist. However, if you really know me you know that there are a lot of things that I’m not a perfectionist with. I’m an odd combination between being strangely type A when it comes to weird things like keeping my planner organized, how my handwriting looks in my notes for class, and how the kitchen counter needs to be wiped down at bedtime. But at the same time I’m super type B when it comes to going with the flow, letting my laundry pile up for days on end, and somehow managing to accumulate at least 8 coffee mugs in my car throughout the week. But I’ve always been a perfectionist in the sense that I want to keep people happy. I want to somehow keep all nine hundred and eighty five billion balls up in the air at the same time. If even one of those balls drops -I feel like a failure. This is especially true when it comes up upholding all of my commitments. I mean, I was the one who was scheduled to be in the church nursery the weekend I had my daughter and was feeling guilty that I hadn’t found a replacement yet and even offered to come in and still be in the nursery two days post pushing a baby out of my, well, you know. But in that moment I honestly felt so much guilt for not being able to be both giving birth to our child and also upholding my commitment to be in the nursery that same weekend. That same weight of guilt overcomes me any time that things come up in my life that may cause me to need to change plans or back out of something. It is even worse if by me backing out it causes someone else to take on more in my place. That is totally not okay.
What I am learning is that I’m not so much of a perfectionist as much as an overly conscientious person. The definition of “conscientious” according to google is, “wishing to do what is right, especially to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly.” I want to be a perfectionist in keeping things running smoothly but I’m also overly conscientious about wanting to finish or do whatever I said I would do. Now that I have finally realized this about myself I think it will help me navigate how I can not feel this way all of the time.
Because life happens. When my daughter needed to go into the Emergency Room (again) this week I instantly thought of all of the things I would need to figure out. Who was going to be on call for me? How was I going to get x, y, and z done for work on time? I can’t just cancel a staff meeting… how am I going to run that? What about picking up my daughter from daycare? How am I going to make it to church on Sunday to get coffee ready? How will I pick up my stepson on time? What about the other things I need to do this week? How am I going to be both in the hospital with our daughter and also doing all of those things? Guess what? Spoiler alert… but I can’t be everything to everyone. I was so incredibly overwhelmed in that moment on how I was going to keep all of those damn balls in the air that it was almost suffocating. What was my priority here? My daughter. Okay, so you know what? The rest of that will just need to figure itself out. It’s okay to cancel things. It’s okay to let people help you. And you know what else? It’s even okay to ask for help. Shocking, I know. I’m not too good at that, either.
What I’ve really learned this week is to prioritize what matters in that moment and forget about the rest. You really don’t have to be the one to keep everything running smoothly & everyone happy all of the time. Let it go. Let people help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And stop thinking that you have to be everything to everyone. You don’t.