Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Silencing My Inner Guidance Counselor

There's a great conversation going on in the comment section of a post on January O'Neil's blog. She started it off by saying, "Earlier, before the car went on sick leave, I was listening to a conversation on talk radio about work/life balance. Do men think about balance in these terms? I read a lot about this subject from the female side of the equation. But I never hear men, single or married, talk about making choices to maintain stability in their personal lives. In my case, I work because I enjoy it, and now I'm the breadwinner for the family so not working is not an option (sorry about the double negative). But I'm constantly thinking about how to spend more time with the kids while remaining effective at work and nurturing a writing career. Is work/life balance a term women created to make us feel better about ourselves?"

In the comment section, Kelli Russell Agodon said, "What I'll say-- women tend to judge themselves too harshly because we want to do a lot of things well. A friend told me early on just to try to be a "good enough parent." I was shocked by this, I wanted to be the best. Since then I've heard it a lot and what I realize is what some smart woman said, "We do the best we can and when we can do better, we do that."

I've spent 24 hours thinking about this concept of being good enough--not being the best, simply being good enough. How would my life change if instead of striving to be the best poet, the best teacher, the best wife, the best assistant chair--but decided to do a good enough job? I feel rather subversive just typing that sentence!

I realize that somehow, a loathsome guidance counselor has gotten into my head. She's always saying "You're not living up to your full potential." She never, ever says, "Wow. I'm so proud of you." No, she says, "So you got to read your poetry at the Library of Congress. Do you have a book with a spine yet? No you do not. Back to your desk. Flog, flog, flog." And I slog, slog, slog.

My nephew has gotten into the delightful habit of telling us all we're doing a good job; one of his favorite phrases is "Good job, guys." The most mundane task will get a "Good job" from him. He'll make a great manager or life coach some day.

I must work on banishing that loathsome inner guidance counselor. I need more voices saying, "Good job, Kris."

1 comment:

Chum said...

Actually, I think you do a great job. But yeah, good job, Kris.