It’s another Wednesday evening, which means I came home just in time to do a little bit of the last-minute dinner prep. I’m in workout gear and still sweaty from kickboxing, ravenous, and while, I’m grateful to be home and with my family my mind is on the rapidly growing To Do List mounting in my email. It’s in this moment, standing over the stove with my hair damp and frizzy from exertion, frenetically trying to char some corn and mix homemade ranch dressing, with a good job and a lovely family, that I feel more than ever like I’m coming up a short.
It’s a feeling I’m assaulted by often, but never more than in these moments.
Sometimes it’s touted as the female experience. We live in a different world than our mothers and our grandmothers, and yet the expectations on our home lives haven’t necessarily shifted to reflect today’s reality. I don’t know if it’s the female experience, the working-parent experience or any other experience other than my own. But I feel lost in it.
The sensation I’m not meeting expectations permeates everything I do lately.
I’m not present enough. My work isn’t as good as I want it to be. The house could be cleaner. Our meals could be better. My one-on-one time with my partner and my son are lacking. The dog isn’t getting as many walks. I’m cancelling workouts. My friendships are suffering. The list goes on and on and on and on.
But is it all in my head?
Maybe, but maybe not. I often wonder how much better I could be in one area of my life if I didn’t need to perform in another area. Maybe if I had more time and mental bandwidth to focus on my family, I’d be less test-y and overwhelmed at the end of the day. Maybe if my workload was just slightly lessened. Maybe I could have more time to hang out with friends.Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
The pressure I feel to perform better across all aspects of my life is breathtakingly overwhelming sometimes. I wake in the middle of the night worried about the load of laundry I’ve left sitting in a basket, waiting to be folded. My floors usually overdue for a vacuum and mopping. Sometimes I don’t even get groceries until we’ve run out of everything we need. The To Do list never seems to slow down.
And yet, no one else seems to notice. I hear no complaints from my family, my friends, or my colleagues. If they’re bothered by my [perhaps imagined] inadequacy, they never tell me. If it’s all imposter syndrome, then it’s that, and I’ll hopefully one day wash it away.
But until then, I’ll probably have an unfolded load of laundry sitting somewhere.