As I was thinking about this post and I started to feel the pressure mounting. “I need to find something to share.” I said it out loud as if to push the needle of inspiration. The needle pushed back, “I’ve got nothing.” The pressure continued to mount in my head as the days drifted one into the next. I was engulfed in a big project at work that distracted me from posting and time was fading fast. I spent the week focused on what needed done and all the details that I thought I was overlooking at work, but reserved time for the love of Awaken and Rise. However, when it came time to write Awaken and Rise – only crickets could be heard. I continued to press. “I need something! What can I share? If this is supposed to be part of my purpose, then I can’t drift off after three posts.” I continued to talk to myself in harsher and harsher tones. Finally, I decided to go for a walk in the woods. “Lots of lessons in the woods. I know there is a story to be shared there.” The narrative in my head was growing slightly desperate and critical. “You better find something there.”
It was a beautiful morning. The kind that makes you feel exponentially free as you turn up the music while you drive. Nothing better. Funny, it was that wonderful moment where I stopped listening to the voice in my head of how I didn’t have something to write. I was just enjoying the ride, the sun, where I was, and how it felt to be alive.
However, once I parked and got out of the car, that critical voice returned and it followed me as I began to walk the trail. I tried to block it out and thought to myself, “Here we go. Inspiration ahead. The work will happen here.” I proceeded to walk and overanalyze the water, plants, birds, trees, and paths in an attempt to find inspiration to share. Nothing that wasn’t contrived. The slow grip of dread started to set in. I began pressing further. The narrative in my head growing more damning.
It told me that I wasn’t good enough and that I didn’t really know my purpose. It said that I am spending time fooling myself with trying to inspire others to a greater life by sharing my thoughts. I didn’t break, but I was starting to doubt. I began to take a less defined path only to find a muddy dip in the trail and a nice little spill in said mud. The narrative in my head was growing to a fever pitch. I looked for more ideas by trying to scale steep hills only to realize that I didn’t have the gear, nor was I willing to pay the price in desire and mud to get to the top. I stopped. I was done. I decided to head out of the woods and go on about my errands for the day. I was beaten. The narrative didn’t take my throwing in the towel for the morning as a surrender. Instead it piled on in my head and continued to condemn me as not good enough, not inspired, and it attacked without subtlety – all that is me. Surprisingly, the attack was not limited to my current state of failure, but to all aspects of my life where I am growing, attempting, or just being me.
This narrative started to condemn every and anything you could imagine. Physical appearance – check! Personal deficiencies – check! Inadequacies socially and at work – check, check! As I plodded to the car, I felt overcome with the need to be still. I decided to walk up the nearest small hill and sat at the top. It is here, once I had gotten my mind out of the stress of meeting my own fabricated expectations, I felt the tremor of inspiration. A new narrative began to take place.
“What am I doing to myself? Where did all these expectations come from? Why the quest to be perfect in everything that I do? Why am I criticizing myself on topics I wasn’t even attempting to focus my time on. Why such fear around not meeting what I believed others expected of me?”, I began to wonder. This wonder began to encompass society, leadership, the individual, and all points in between.
It hit me. Don’t we all live our lives dealing with unrealistic expectations that we place on ourselves? Don’t we all live our lives dealing with unrealistic expectations that are placed on us by society? Why do we give it power? Unrealistic self and societal expectations are a tether that attempt to hold you down from rising and force you to sleep. Disturbing imagery? It is for me, but I believe it to be true and accurate.
Take a moment. Think about the narrative in your mind that has been placed there by these sources of self or society. Think about how you deal with and view your imperfections. Think about the expectations of self and society that highlight our imperfections. Think about how these expectations and thoughts steal your joy and appreciation for who you are. In this moment, we can choose to live in the unreality and condemnation that tethers us to these expectations OR we can embrace the opportunity to rise and realize that we are uniquely magnificent and beautiful. We are beings who are greater than these expectations, just by being us we supersede them and invalidate them. Our imperfection is what makes us unique and beautiful and special to God. We are not meant to be cookie cutter people living out the expectations of our negative narratives or the society at large. We are meant to only be ourselves and ourselves to the fullest.
Then I had this thought, what if…all those things that I think I need to do to measure up were accomplished? Would I be complete? Would I really be happier with myself? OR Would there be a new round of greater expectations? A greater demand on myself to be perfect? I would have everything, but truly have nothing, as I would be denying my uniqueness and denying my purpose.
Understand I am not talking about personal growth, but about the unrealistic expectations we and society place on ourselves to spin the narrative of how we are not good enough. When I forgot my expectations and enjoyed my ride to the park – life was abundant and free. When I focused back on them- life was scarce and shackled.
This whole time, this entire experience was about one great lesson – enjoy our imperfection. Don’t let anyone, including your negative narrative, tell you what you have to do to be you and to live your purpose. As a friend is always telling me, this life, our imperfections, the accidents along the way – it’s all secretly perfect. So true.