Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Curse of the Good Girls

I spent some time at Rogers' house tonight. I just dropped by to check in since she's on bed rest right now. And we had a discussion about how much bed rest sucks. She did it for months with her first pregnancy. I only had to do it for a short time around my surgery. Now she's back on it with this pregnancy and we're all keeping our fingers crossed that it's not going to as long as it was when she was pregnant with Curious J.

What struck me most about the conversation was that there are these definite similarities in the way that Rogers and I were raised, because they both led to these crazy expectations we have of ourselves.

Good girls keep their wits about them. Good girls are always there to help. Good girls are self-sufficient, responsible, reliable. Good girls get good grades, date nice boys.

What has happened is both good and bad. As adults, we have trouble trusting people. We let most people in to a certain extent, but not enough that if they totally disappeared we'd be heart broken. We think we should be able to take care of everything in our lives by ourselves and we should always be able to do it well. We set extremely high expectations of ourselves and consider these expectations to be the bare minimum acceptable performance. We are terrible at admitting that we need help or asking for it. We keep things to ourselves far too often. We beat ourselves up for our mistakes, even though we learn best by them. We don't want to be a bother to anyone. And we're okay not being noticed at all.

And I wonder what it is about our cultural upbringing that put all of those ideas into our heads. Because the truth is that we're both very high performing, empathetic, smart women. So why do we keep ratcheting up the expectations? Why can't we just be okay with who we are? Why do we continue to frustrate ourselves when we've learned time and time again that we have very little control over things like diseased gallbladders and babies?

Is it just us, or are there other people who feels this way too?


Debra said...

It isn't just you. I have mega trust issues :) It is a real issue for me and I also have problems asking for help And I am pretty sure, though my upbringing sounds quite different than yours and Rogers', that it very much affects how I interact with others and how I view myself. I am very self-critical, untrusting, and over protective. But like you, I can also see the empathetic, kind, genuine parts of myself (and even how most of my friends and family view me) and I know that those are good qualities if I could just leave the anxiety behind and focus on those instead of all of my insecurities.

Very good thoughts. Your friends see all the good qualities in you too, in case you were wondering.

Laura said...

Have you read the book by the same name as you blog post? I know you don't have a girl, but it's a good book, worth recommending to any friend who is raising girls.