Hard Work

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So this post is less craft/crochet-related and more life-related. Which, I guess, when your life involves a lot of crafting that’s kind of the same thing.

After talking with a friend recently about reaching goals by being smart versus working hard, I had a self-realization moment. I haven’t worked that hard for anything in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have done hard work and I am a good worker and I like to think that my standard effort level is above average. But I’ve never worked hard for something. I’ve never had a goal that I had to really work for that I actually made it to. Most things have either just been easy for me and I’ve just gone with the flow or it wasn’t that easy and I gave it up.

My motto has been “it’ll be fine.” I’m basically coasting.

I mean, high school was easy (aside from the coming of age part where everything is terrible), I never really tried in class and I did well. But I only made the cheer squad because someone else quit. I got into a good college only because someone else turned down the scholarship opportunity. I became Editor-In-Chief of my college yearbook because no one else applied. I had no competition for at least the first 4 jobs I applied for. Classes in college were harder. I did have to put forth more than my normal amount of effort, but even then it was only enough to get through it.

I gave up pretty quickly on getting a job with my degree because that wasn’t coming very easily-there was a lot of competition in the publishing world. I got several other jobs because of who I knew. I lucked into a job at the photo studio. I got promoted there with no extra effort. I wasn’t even trying when I met my husband. We met and clicked, it was easy. Planning our wedding was easy. Getting pregnant was easy. Having the babies was a little harder but again, it just happened. I got lucky finding part time jobs that let me stay home (even luckier that my husband is amazing and so supportive of that). Being a stay at home mom has been a lot harder than I expected it would be but that wasn’t really a goal I was striving toward.

I’ve had some goals along the way. I’ve also had a lot of reasons (i.e. excuses) why I didn’t make it to them. Some are legitimate reasons but more are rationalizations. Mostly, I would give up because it didn’t come easily as everything else.

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My life is pretty good overall. On the surface I shouldn’t have any complaints. And I’m trying to be grateful for what I have. But there’s something missing. A sense of fulfillment or purpose or worth. Recently, I’ve thought those things were attributed to not having a career. Growing up I always thought I would have both the family life and the successful career. But after this realization I think it’s more because I haven’t been successful in reaching a goal (one of those goals being having a career).

I wanted this blog to take off and for me to be just a naturally good writer and designer and goal-reacher. But it didn’t. I rationalized it that I was just too distracted by things at home, taking care of the house and the kids and other things. And that is part of it. I don’t think I realized how much I would actually have to try to make this dream a reality.

I don’t want to sound unappreciative to the people in my life but I’ve had a lot of blind support over the years. Support is great but at the same time I kind of wish someone had called me out on all my quitting so I didn’t hit 32 without feeling like I’ve accomplished anything. 

Support is such an important thing to have but there’s a really thin line between being supportive and enabling. No one pointed out to me how much I was giving up on my goals. (I can’t even count the number of times I said I was going to diet or get in shape or get the boys on a preschool-like schedule.) So it never really dawned on me how much I was holding myself back by not sticking to it. And yeah, a lot of the things I gave up on were minor things. Everyone gives up on diets at some point. Everyone says they’ll get in shape or make efforts to read more and watch TV less. It doesn’t really make those things acceptable but it’s not uncommon. But for me, all of those little things lead up to a pattern of behavior that I’m not really proud of. It becomes a habit that is nearly impossible to break. And yes, goals and priorities can and should change along with life. Growing up will do that.

It’s definitely not anyone’s fault though except my own. I’m sure that some of my “goals” were ones I kept to myself or only shared with one or two people (and those people have other things to do than just worry about me). Asking for help is not one of my favorite things but is what I should have done. I should have asked for a workout/diet buddy. I should have asked my husband to help with the boys more (he does plenty but I don’t ask for any extra). I should have asked for someone to help with site design or watching the boys so I would have time to work. But I never wanted to burden others or seem like I couldn’t do it myself, even when I really couldn’t. 

Sadly, I don’t feel like I have much to show for my life thus far. And I realize that sounds terrible coming from someone with a family. And while having children is amazing and wonderful and definitely hard work, it’s not enough for me. I have a lot of guilt about feeling that way but it’s true and I don’t think I’m alone in it. I don’t think I’m setting the best example for them either. At this point, they are probably too young to really notice how much I’m not trying. But one day they will notice. And they will imitate the behavior that they see. How will they know how to put forth their best effort when I haven’t shown them how?

My goal at the beginning of the year was to focus more on Erin. Even to the point of admitting some harsh facts about myself. This is definitely one of them. And one I honestly didn’t see coming. But it does explain a lot of why I feel like I haven’t accomplished enough and why I feel unfulfilled. It’s my own fault. They say that to fix a problem you have to first admit that there is one. Well, I’m admitting I have a problem. I need to fix it. I need to change. I need to get better. I’ve always been pretty good at giving advice to other people and now I need to take some myself.

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This blog is something that I want. Something that I want to do well at and to be a success. To accomplish that I need to put more effort into designing and creating and self-promoting (a big obstacle for me) and asking for help (another big obstacle). I need to set aside more time in my day for it. If I want it to be a source of income for my family, which it actually has potential to be, I need to treat it as such. I need things to be more than “just okay” and “it’ll be fine” can’t be my motto when it comes to the site. (I still think that’s an important motto for other aspects of life, there are just some things that aren’t worth worrying about so saying it will be fine is a good affirmation. Like the really terrible at-home haircut I gave Owen this week…) I know I’m still young and hopefully have a lot of years left in me but I don’t want to get to 40 and still be in the same boat as I am now. (Although, I have been saying lately that I think I’ll hit my peak in my 40s.) I want to prove to myself that I can actually work hard for something that I want and accomplish a difficult goal. Being “smart” isn’t enough.

I realize that this post is mostly for myself and I doubt many will read it. That’s fine. I needed to get it out. But maybe someone else will read this and it will strike a chord for them or someone they know. 

Thank you for your support. I still need it. But maybe call me out every once in a while if it seems like I’m slipping up. I need that too. 😉


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