Paralyzed by my own expectations

I’m having a difficult time writing this next blog post. I’ve got about 9 posts on the go and I just can’t finish one of t7368998274_14fb709716_o (2)hem. Try as I might, I can’t seem to write just the precise sequence of words that will somehow measure up to my level of expectation.

My mom reminded me of that today that my need to be unique in a perfect sort of way has haunted me all my life.

I can think of so many areas where this was the case. My whole life’s experience with physical activity is just one example. Piano, riding bike, singing alto and learning to knit are all areas where I expected to excel the moment I began. When I didn’t, I just assumed I wasn’t any good at whatever it was that I was learning at the time. End of the story. No hard work and determination for me.

This year, I decided to take up piano and started taking lessons from my daughter’s teacher. I’m proud to say that 6 months later I am now playing hands together and working in Grade 3 books. I still can’t believe that the music that I hear comes from these fingertips.

Thanks to my husband’s influence, this last decade I’ve been trying to live by his motto, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Lately, I’ve been reading studies in educational psychology that show the need for grit in the face of failure(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaeFnxSfSC4). Mozart himself may have seemed like a genius but in fact he was practicing daily the piano almost twice as long as his contemporaries (see linked video).

One reason that I kept at piano this fall is because my teacher wouldn’t let me stop practicing a piece until I had mastered it. I tried to hint to her for weeks that I should move on to something else because I just wasn’t any good at it and still she kept assigning it for another week, giving me valuable advice on how to practice. She showed no judgement but told me when it was getting better, even when I couldn’t hear it myself. I can’t tell you how good it was to move from that Grade 1 level book that I had been in for years.

One of those things that keeps me trying even when I’m failing is the feeling that I’m supported and loved even when I fail. I think that’s why it’s been so much easier lately because I know that the love that I experience is firm and steady, not changing at the whim of any circumstances. Through my relationships with my husband and others I have met throughout my journey, I am feeling more deeply the love of a great God.

It is love and acceptance in those moments when I’m struggling where I find the grace to sustain me in the midst of all of my failures and shortcomings. It is in those moments that I’m able to persevere.

I just hope and pray that I too can impart that love and acceptance to my children. Lord, hear my prayer.

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4 thoughts on “Paralyzed by my own expectations

  1. Having been on the receiving end, from you, of the kind of unfailing love and gentle/firm support, I am happy to hear you are allowing yourself some of that grace, too. I can often be kinder to others than I am to myself.

    I, too, started piano lessons last fall. I can hear/feel the difference in my progress—when I spend time practicing, and also appreciate the non-judgmental guidance and support of my teacher. And now my competitive side comes out as I realize I am still in the primary books. 🙂

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