I often come off long weekends (so rare and far between, since we work a number of holidays when the stock exchange is closed) feeling disappointed. Like I've wasted it, somehow. They seem so rich and full of possibility at the beginning, and when I look back at the end, I never seem to have done as much as I wanted to.
No matter what I do, I'm nagged by that feeling of I-could've-done-it-better.
This happens in all aspects of life. It's why traffic drives me absolutely bonkers--because I have the sneaking suspiscion that if I were only good enough--smart enough, fast enough, clever enough, skilled enough, paying enough attention--I would be able to negotiate my way to smooth sailing.
If I were good enough, I'd always pick the shortest and fastest line at the grocery store.
If I were good enough, I'd pick the best route through traffic, the best lane for each segment of my drive.
If I were good enough, I would have a fresh meal on the table every night, my dogs would never run away, the DDH and I would never fight, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
But I can't be good enough to be any of those things.
Some things I can make active efforts to improve at--like meal planning and communicating kindly with the DDH--because improvement really does lie within my control. That's why I set goals and keep track of them.
But not meeting my goals doesn't mean I'm less of a good person than if I hit all my goals on schedule every time.
Some things I can try to account for--like filling in the dogs' holes with cement sand, or keeping an eye out for little old ladies writing checks at the grocery store, or checking a traffic report for construction--but are ultimately out of my control. I can't pave the entire backyard or cut off the dogs' digging paws or account for the stealth check-writers or sudden traffic accidents.
Except there is always something I could do. I could pave the backyard (or get rid of the dogs entirely, since they obviously don't want to live here anyway*). I could do all my grocery shopping online and end the tyranny of check-writers and price-checkers forever. I could refuse to leave the house (or at least refuse to drive) and thus never get stuck in traffic.
I'm stuck in frustrating situations because I choose to put myself there. Maybe that's where the feeling of not being good enough comes from, the acknowledgement that ultimately it is my choice (and thus my failure?) for being in the situation in the first place.
But when I look at the alternatives as being, not having chosen the shorter line, but having chosen to forego all grocery stores forever, I realize how ridiculous I'm being. I realize that beating yourself up over choosing the wrong lane of traffic is a silly way to live.
(The fact that if Tulsa's city planners had just done common sense things like include center turn lanes in their stupid roads, so many of my frustrations would evaporate, is another post entirely.)
I am good enough that a few extra minutes in line won't kill me.
I am good enough that I can be patient in traffic (and note to self: being impatient really could kill me).
I am good enough to set wise goals, to work on them, to fail and learn and try again and sometimes, to give up.
More importantly, I am not in any way and never will be good enough to control everything.
I'm not in control. I never was, and never will be, and figuring out the balance between personal agency (doing things) and personal subjecthood (having things happen to me) is, perhaps, the key struggle for this INTJ. They don't call us Masterminds for nothing.
I'm not in control. But I am good enough.
And for Pete's sake, it's time to stop raising my blood pressure over the dratted traffic four times a day.
|The fewer cars, the better.|
What makes you feel inadequate? And how do you remind yourself that frustrations are not personal failures or character flaws?