Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Overachieving Perfectionism

In the McFatty Monday post yesterday, Blair talked about being an overachiever and workaholic. Those words have been going around in my mind repeatedly for the past 24 hours. I do not consider myself a workaholic. There are days when I do nothing but lay on the sofa when I feel run down. The guilt that comes from those days is overwhelming though. I’m definitely an overachiever. I want a lot and over commit myself. I go bigger and better and basically beyond my physical means (and sometimes financial).

It’s in my genes. My father does everything on a grand scale and I am so used to his work ethic (the man is like the energizer bunny even at 60, he NEVER stops working) and his schemes and capabilities I forget that I don’t have the means to do so and my husband is a LOT more laid back than him and refuses to keep up with my demands. (See, not every girl marries the image of her Daddy!) I am my father’s daughter so I needed a calmer person to balance me out though sometimes his affect on me tips the scales which causes that ever present guilt. It’s a vicious cycle.

Example: Gardening. Most people are happy with a small garden: 2-3 tomato plants, 2-3 squash and zucchini plants on a 5 x 5 patch of ground (or a little bigger). Me? No, I have my Daddy bring in one of his monster tractor’s to till up a ¾ acre pasture for me so I can garden on a grand scale in addition to my nice neat 728 square foot box garden. I conveniently did not consider how I would manage this gigantic garden without a cultivator tractor or even a large tiller. That’s where I overstretch my financial capabilities. We just can not afford the equipment to manage my grand scale farming ideas! I grew up with farmers, I’m USED to the big huge gardens. I don’t know why I do this to myself. My “little” garden is fabulous. Everyone loves it, even the hardcore traditionalist farmers. My parents plant about 10 acres on their farm and always have more than enough to share with me to allow me to can for the winter. Their neighbors who are large scale commercial farmers share their abundance with us as well. So why do I stress myself out to mimic my roots? To do what my parents do which is what I think I have to do to carry on tradition when I have just changed it slightly to suit our life? Why is it not good enough for me to keep doing what works? Is it a keeping up with the Jones’ complex? I never thought I had an issue with that and none of my neighbors do anything close to what I do but maybe I’m keeping up with my idea of the Jones’s.

I think it is partially detachment anxiety and partially filling a void. My parents live an hour away with my sister and her boys next door. My in-laws live 4 hours away with both their other children and all their grandchildren down the road. But here, it’s just me and my husband stumbling along as home/small farm owners and no children. I feel isolated and alone and I have such a great desire to have a family and raise my children with all the benefits and advantages that I had plus some. I hear stories of dinners together and what the nephews are doing and I realize that both our families know and participate in each other’s lives but we are alone. I look out at my quiet piece of land and see this beautiful little garden and a bright shiny swimming pool just sitting there waiting to be loved. And I feel that I’m not good enough to love it all and care for it all alone.

My perfectionist side of me that has a mental breakdown over weeds in the garden can not wrap its mind around what to do without this dream of a family. So I keep forcing myself into bigger projects, more hobbies, more THINGS TO DO. I stress myself out trying to make my home PERFECT and everything I do Excellent and admirable because I feel like a failure and feel alone.

I don’t think that my garden adventures, landscaping failures and general lack of time and overachieving endeavors are a direct result of my lack of children but I do think I tend to go overboard with it. If I had children or never wanted them, would I still garden and stress about the amount of work that needs to be done to the house in the short time and limited budget? Absolutely. My parents were amazing people who somehow ran a farm, took care of a family, ran a business, gardened, kept the house up and a barrage of other home projects. They both had their contractors licenses, my dad is an engineer, my mom is a finance expert. I was raised to think I could conquer the world in a day and nothing would elude me if I just kept trying and working toward it.

At what cost to sanity though? When do I say enough is enough? I finally said enough is enough on the big garden after a heat wave blistered my precious tomatoes, squash and beans but left the weeds thriving (I have weeds out there taller than me!). We are mowing the whole thing down and returning it to a pasture and focusing on my pretty “little” garden. Where do I draw the line on fertility? Or diet? Or other aspects of my life?

I’m a 32 year old infertile with a dream and too much to do. What do I do? I sew, cook, bake, garden, keep house, work full time, swim, mend fences, do yard work, and tend my little zoo of animals. What do you do when you become overworked, overzealous, or lost in the madness of seemingly unattainable dreams?

1 comment:

  1. I don't have nearly as much going on as you and I already feel CRAZED with how busy we've been. More than anything IF has given me this incredible desire to simplify! I want to purge STUFF and things we don't use, things we don't need - and that includes hobbies I've lost interest in or are not a priority.

    I think it is great that you are trimming down your gardening. That's an excellent compromise. You still get to do something you love, but it won't control so much of your life. You're going in the right direction love. Small steps at a time. That's the only way to make lifestyle changes.