It is always hard for me to write a very personal piece as it makes me feel vulnerable; however, those are the times that allow us to truly grow. In my forty years of life, I have learned so much each and every day. At times those learning experiences are embraced and at other times, the learning experience is a painful one. At the end of the day, all experiences build who we are as a person.
A piece of me has always struggled internally with expectations and pressures that I felt were on me all my life. This came to light for me through a Disney movie. I believe many have heard of Disney’s Encanto that has been having everyone singing, “We don’t talk about Bruno!”
But the one that had me singing loudly was “Surface Pressure” (featured below).
Internal pressure to me is when we set our own expectations in our minds of what we think is needed from us. These expectations become pressures when we feel we are not meeting those expectations.
Being noted as “internal” means no one really sees what is brewing inside as on the surface it “looks” like we have it all together. BUT deep inside, the breaking point has almost arrived.
I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service. – Disney’s Encanto, Surface Pressure
I remember at a very young age that I had a need to help others. I always wanted to make sure everyone was happy and I never wanted to disappoint my family.
When my younger sister was born, it felt like the expectation of being a good role model became more important to me. Our seven year gap meant that the expectation to be there for her was set in stone. My family needed me especially with the language barrier since my parents native tongue was Portuguese. Therefore, I had to translate on many aspects of daily life for my family. I took it all in because it made me feel needed. Even when it got too much, I still kept going because now people expected me to carry it all.
Give it to your sister your sister’s older. Give her all the heavy things we can’t shoulder. Who am I if I can’t run with the ball. – Disney’s Encanto, Surface Pressure
I took great pride in being an important “glue” member for my family and continue to help any family members who need me because that is just who I am. As I had my own family to care for, my need to help others only grew stronger. I felt that it was expected of me to extend myself to everyone around me. The pressure to be this beacon for everyone started to take a toll on me physically and emotionally.
Under the surface. I hide my nerves and it worsens. I worry something is gonna hurt us. – Disney’s Encanto, Surface Pressure
Allowing myself to absorb everyone’s burdens made me lose myself and the inability to ask for help when I needed it the most. With being a “helper” all my life, it made it extremely hard for me to ask for help. I have always had to figure things out on my own and I was ok with that as I learned a lot. Even at the most darkest moments of my life, I thought I had to turn to myself to cope.
I was losing myself to accommodate the needs of others at a high price. However, was I really losing myself when all I knew was to be at service to everyone else? That is all I knew since I was a kid. The internal struggle to be a good person, good daughter and good mother was set so high and it was up to me to take that expectation out of my mind.
No matter how much you do for others it is never enough and the expectation keeps growing. It is like a goal post that is constantly moving and you are trying to reach unrealistic expectations.
The expectation that I can handle it all with grace was what I thought was needed from me. Little did I know that it is perfectly ok to be imperfect. That is when I started to truly be myself. I started to be more raw and used a little bit of sarcastic humor to get through the days.
I even learned to say “No” a little more which has been the hardest thing to do as I received a lot of backlash without not being able to always be there for everyone.
The disappointment seemed so hard to bare at times but I knew I was doing it for the best reasons with the best intentions in my heart of hearts. It slowly freed up time for me to do things that I never thought I would enjoy to do like walking my French Bulldog. It was a great escape and break away from it all.
“But wait. If I could shake the crushing weight of expectations would that free some room up for joy or relaxation or simple pleasure. Instead we measure this growing pressure.”
I am a working progress as I guide myself out of the expectation mind frame and start looking at balancing myself. I do still love to help anyone who needs my help and I am getting better at recognizing when I have been stretch too thin.
Every journey comes with their struggles and the battle will be daily. This could be why this piece took me so long to write (started writing it in January – yeah I know!). I needed to process my thoughts and feelings to ensure I articulated exactly with what I wanted to say.
This piece is to remind me that my internal struggle is the expectation that I allowed to get the best of me. It is truly up to me to change it and balancing priorities is what is important.
I still love everyone dearly and will be there when I am needed. However, I will better recognize when too much is too much and be ok asking for help. Let my pride aside and know that I am just as important as everyone else. You can love yourself and embrace all your imperfections because perfect is just overrated!
Until next time…Happy Parenting!