Monday, April 14, 2014

The Side-effects of Being Superwoman

First, let me be clear. I don’t consider myself a superwoman. Instead, I see myself as some crazy person who wants to live six lives at once and do them all perfectly. I want to have four careers, volunteer in my community, and be a stay-at-home mom.

Oh, and somewhere in there I want to have a perfectly manicured house and yard.

Impossible? Why yes, yes it is. But yet, we all know people who seem to live the dream. Who seem to do and have it all.

You know who I’m talking about. That mom in the line at the car pool pick up who is so together. Or the lady who always seems to get her haircut the same day you and doesn’t miss the opportunity to brag about her latest promotion all while starting her new venture into an eco-couture clothing line on the side. They’re superwomen and we wonder how they do it. Because we want that too. Okay, I want that too. (I won’t put words into your mouth.)

But we’re not seeing what happens behind closed doors. We don’t see the negative side effects which come from being superhuman: the occasional exhaustion, the balls dropped, or the people in our lives neglected in our own pursuits.

For me, thinking about this topic started when I began noticing the titles we give ourselves. In bios on websites and blogs, many are not content to say who they are and what’s important to them. Instead, some tout a laundry list of job titles and accomplishments they think give them credibility. Or at least define them. (For an example, see mine to the left. Yep, I’m very guilty of this too.)

I’m sure those of us who make these lists do it for various reasons. I do it to connect with people on some level, whether they also are interested in gardening or writing or something else I like to do. I want to feel that moment of “you get me!” and “I get you too!”

We all wear many hats, some define us, some describe our personalities, and some we should never believe are who we are but do anyway. Like a dead-end job we hate or the demeaning nickname our great-aunt gave us when we were six and too tired and hungry to behave ourselves properly.
We are only who we say we are—with action, voice, and deed.

I’ll keep using my 5 or 6 jobs to describe myself, but consider this my public reminder to acknowledge I am perfectly imperfect. I want figure out how to accept I am humanly incapable of expanding my day past 24 hours. I am aware some days I’ll get all 6 categories* crossed off on my to-do list and some days I’ll play on Pinterest for hours while I listen to podcasts. That’s okay. I’m still choosing to work towards my goals, still striving for the objectives most important to me. Some days I just work at a different pace than other days. 

Surely I’m not alone on this?

The truth is, from Agatha Christie to Zelda Fitzgerald, we all have the same amount of time in a day.

Sometimes we collapse from exhaustion, sometimes we’re a giant ball of active adrenaline.
And that’s okay. It’s not a side effect from being superhuman, rather one from putting too many irons in the fire at the same time.

I can choose to put less irons in the fire or refuse to become overwhelmed when I do put many in at once. This is where prioritization fits in and is something I’m not very good at doing.

But for me—and perhaps for some of you—it’s worth working towards!

Thoughts on balance and doing it all? Do you struggle with wanting to be superhuman as well?

* I have a really hard time prioritizing because everything feels valuable and worth my time. This is how I try to keep my vision on what matters most to me long-term: In my planner, I have six categories of items I want to get done that day: 1) devotional time—time to study my religion, 2) exercise—I try to devote at least 30 minutes a day, 3) writing time—at least two hours a day, 4) tasks for the day for work, 5) a way to serve another human being, and 6) spend time reading for pleasure. I check off what I do get done that day and if I get at least four categories done in a day, I consider it a successful day. It’s a routine I’ve been able to stick with the last couple of years. It may not work for you, but I felt it was worth mentioning here.