Musings of a Pleaser

Ms Action recently got a kids vegetable peeler as a gift and she was dying to use it. One evening I gave her a carrot and showed her how to scrape the peeler away from herself. She was happily shaving away at it when her younger sister noticed what was going on and insisted on having a carrot to scrape too!

Ms Drama struggled to get the carrot to stay in one place, the scraper wouldn’t move the way she wanted it too. But her little 2 year old self was determined to do what her big sister was doing. She wrestled with the unfamiliar utensil, and screeched in frustration when her peeler refused to work as smoothly as Ms Action’s. Then she began banging the peeler against the carrot and finally threw the carrot across the table and cried.

By now I was just shaking my head. I mean, why couldn’t she just enjoy watching her sister instead of insisting on doing it too. She had no real desire to shave carrots, she just wanted to be like her sister and not “miss out”. She could have had fun doing any number of things, instead she insisted on shaving carrots and got angry when she couldn’t quite get it. It was so silly to watch her set herself up for stress and anxiety.

Until I realized that I do the exact same thing.

Except its nothing so small as peeling carrots for me. How many times do I resolve to keep my house perfectly clean because someone else seems to be able to do so? How many times do I stress about living up to the accomplishment’s (real or imagined) of the former pastor’s family? How many times do I “bang my carrot against the table” in frustration when I cannot succeed in making myself fit into someone else’s mold?

Why is it so easy for me to see everything about myself as negative? Why is it my instinct to be ashamed of my ideas and interests, or at least ignore they are there? Why do I feel like everyone else’s ideas and interests are more valuable than mine? Why do I feel like a failure when I don’t measure up to whatever someone else tells me I should be, even when I have no real desire to be that person in the first place?

Why is it so hard for me to be OK with being myself, just as I am?

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Re-post: I am Not My Parents
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  • Heather

    Oooh, this is good. I see myself in that younger daughter of yours, desperately wanting to keep up with what someone else is accomplishing in their life, and not understanding why I can't do it too. I will keep this lesson in mind next time I see myself trying to do something just because someone I admire has already accomplished it.

  • priest’s wife

    I feel the same way a lot- what helps is to try to imagine how God sees me- He made me in His image and thinks I am great- He thinks you are pretty cool, too

  • Sarah Z

    Being a first born raised in an intense family situation may have something to do with it? That and being told from a young age that you were "christian/homeschooled/not in the world…" and so should be freaking super woman or something might have a bit to do with it as well. ;) Your doing great babe! Your husband and children adore you, you are growing and learning about your self, and I know lots of people who wish they could keep things together as well as you do (myself included).

  • ‘Becca

    I'm so glad you had this insight! It's much easier to cope with a child's frustration when you can say, truthfully, "We all feel that way sometimes."

    A few weeks ago I was in a committee meeting at church while my 6-year-old Nicholas sat on the floor coloring. We were discussing a proposed topic for our all-ages learning program during Lent: putting sin in perspective so we aren't overwhelmed and discouraged by thinking of ourselves as bad. Someone raised concern that this topic is too abstract for the children. I said, "Actually, it reminds me of something Nicholas has been doing lately: He does one thing wrong, and he gets very sad and says, 'I never do ANYthing right!' That's this same thing of seeing your sin as bigger and more important than all your good works." Suddenly everybody understood and began saying in warm voices things like, "Oh, Nicholas, I've done that too! Just yesterday I broke a glass and thought, 'I am so clumsy I can't be trusted with anything!' even though I had just put away all the other dishes without breaking them." Now we all realize that we all need to work on that. :-) It was great to see the look on my son's face as he realized even grown-ups make that mistake. He was so relieved and talked about it for several days.