Know thyself is one of Gretchen Rubin’s universal truths, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. It’s hard to know ourselves because there are a million different criteria we can use. Just look at how many different personality tests are out there.
I read Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and she talks about courage, compassion and connection. She talks about resilience, shame, joy, gratitude, etc., etc.
How are we supposed to know how we react to all of those emotions?
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you avoid conflict? Are you highly sensitive?
We could take up all of our time just trying to know ourselves.
Instead of devoting all my time to this, you know, because I have a family and a job and stuff, I’m trying to just pay attention more. To be mindful.
One of the things that makes this harder than it should be is we have these ideas of ourselves that may not be true. For example, I thought I liked planning and I probably would have even said I was good at it.
But I just realized –
I hate planning!
Any of my family members that read this are probably laughing out loud because of how obvious it was (is) to them.
Why was I so wrong about myself?
Well, when you’re on your own you have to plan at least some things. So you do it. In my marriage, I feel like I have to plan. This task falls to me because “I’m the planner.”
Which is ridiculous because it’s not true.
If I were good at planning or enjoyed it, we would have gone to Florida this year.
I wanted to go see my aunt and grandparents, to spend time with them and so they could meet Clara. My husband also wanted to go because he wanted a vacation at the beach and to see my family.
We missed my opportunity to go because I couldn’t plan it. (And by missed our opportunity, it’s because my aunt isn’t there anymore and we would have stayed with her.)
There were too many decisions to make. Was it worth it to fly Frontier and take a red eye because it cost 1/3 of the price of any other airline? How many seats would we need? Who would sit with who? When should we go? How long should we stay?
It was just too much.
The same thing happened again recently. My husband started asking what we were going to do for Emma’s party. I knew I didn’t want a party with her whole entire class, but that was about all I knew. My husband kept trying to get me to make a decision and I wouldn’t do it.
So what did we do for her birthday? We picked her up from daycare (they did cupcakes without us) and went to Whole Foods and let her pick what she wanted for dinner. She also picked out a hydrangea plant.
I didn’t even get her a birthday present!
I had so many excuses for why I didn’t. She didn’t need anything. She would be getting lots of gifts anyway. We already have too much stuff.
Then why did I feel bad?
I wanted to have planned something for her and I didn’t.
I let myself get hung up on details and expectations and I don’t do it in a way that works for me.
When I dug deeper I realized that I do like planning, I was just going at it wrong.
I like planning things and looking forward to them, but I sometimes get hung up on details or other expectations.
I want to plan a trip but there are so many questions that I get overwhelmed. I lose sight of the big thing and get mired in the details.
When it comes to presents, I’m the same way. I want to do something really thoughtful and find something the other person really wants, but I’m not always great at that, so I just give up.
Now I’m looking at planning differently.
I planned a mom’s night out for a date, time and location that worked for me.
One other person showed up.
It was great! We had a good conversation. We’ve gotten together since.
I actually made a new friend.
I guess the lesson was that I need to stop telling myself I hate planning and plan things I enjoy.