I don’t know if it’s just me, but all throughout my childhood, my parents drilled into me that I was supposed to be “The Best.” Whatever that meant – I was supposed to be it.
Examples of things at which I was supposed to be the best:
– Being Chinese (of course, by default, being Chinese is already the best!)
– Playing piano (includes having the best piano teacher)
– Singing (and voice teacher, naturally)
– Chinese school
– Christian (the best church)
Anything that was anything could be turned into the quest for the best. Of course, friendly rivalry with cross town high schools and sister churches were de rigeur and all in good fun, but it really highlighted the general attitude and feeling I got in everything I did.
Unfortunately, this obsession with being the best did not do me any favors. If I wasn’t able to quickly capitalize on innate talent, I gave up. What was the point in attempting anything that I wasn’t going to be immediately amazing at? This penchant for only doing things that I was naturally good at severely limited my activities (despite my being good at lots of things). Of course, hard work and a little sweat equity never crossed my mind as valid options.
Being the best also transferred into needing to own or acquire the best things. As a result, any time I have to buy books on a topic, or learn something, or buy a car, or a computer, or a TV, or anything, I can’t do anything unless I have the best. Which of course, requires a lot of research. (Something I despise doing.) Then, I procrastinate. Or, if I actually do do the research, I am fraught with anxiety about choosing and making sure that my choice is actually the best.
I do this a lot with my kids’ activities. Currently, I’m looking into martial arts classes for Cookie Monster. I’m obsessed with finding the “best” martial arts type. Is it MMA? Krav Maga? Shaolin Wushu? I mean, if we’re going to go Kung Fu, we should go with Shaolin, right? They’re the most badass! But if we’re not going to stay in the Chinese/Asian family, then we should go with Krav Maga, right? Because Mossad kicks ass. But they don’t let little kids learn it. So, I guess that rules itself out.
Just replace “martial arts” with art, piano, voice, whatever thing I may suddenly decide the kids should do or need to learn – and the same craziness applies.
This is why usually, I put off buying things or starting classes.
I am paralyzed by the thought of not being the best – and yet, what does it matter? I mean, who cares if it’s not the “best” martial art? And what does being the best mean, anyway? Best for the child? For defense? For offense? For coolness factor? It’s an arbitrary designation that is ultimately meaningless. For truthfully, it’s just good for the kids to have an activity that is both good physical exercise as well as a good skill to have. Why does it matter if it is the best?
Or who cares if it’s the best piano technique? I would say that most piano teachers have technique down, and then the rest would be up to style and talent and likability. There is time to change teachers. My kids aren’t going to be professional piano players or singers, so who cares? (Well, I suppose you never know. But thus far, unlikely.)
I care, apparently. I care a lot!
I care so much that I obsess for hours, days, weeks, even months before I either pull the trigger in a fit of exasperation or shelve the topic entirely and do nothing. I rarely tell myself to chill out and relax and remember that it’s all fun and games anyway so why am I driving myself crazy?
One day, I will come around to the “Good Enough” variety of thinking. (Gracious, just the thought of having things “good enough” makes me want to break out in hives.) “Good enough” is what mediocre people choose! Which, maybe true. But there I go again, thinking that what we do and what we know equates to our value as people. And that is all a big, steaming pile of poop.
Look. Sometimes, just to get things done, we have to settle for “Good Enough.” My cleaning products don’t have to be the most organic and the most non-toxic. They can just be organic and non-toxic. My posts don’t have to be perfectly nuanced and paced and parsed. They can just blather on and on and have some meandering point if even that. (And apparently, lots of run-on sentences.) My children don’t have to be in the best dance/art/voice/piano classes. They can just learn things and have fun and if they show any aptitude, then we can go searching for the “best” teachers. But until then, it will be fine.
This goes against my very grain because all I can think about is, “All that wasted time/effort/money on something that wasn’t the best! Practice makes permanent! All that time will be wasted on doing something that could be forming bad habits and will take even more time/effort/money to fix and do right! GAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
Sorry. My kids have been utter terrors at night lately because Hapa Papa is out of town and ever since we changed Glow Worm into a toddler bed because the little stinker has shown a remarkable ability to climb out of his crib, he has been impossible to put down at night (and at nap time – oh, who am I kidding? What nap time?) and this, of course, affects Cookie Monster and Gamera’s bed times and OMG I’m exhausted and frazzled and by the time they go to bed it’s close to 11pm and I’m an utter failure as a mother and I want to stick a fork in an electrical socket.
Wow. I would delete that last paragraph but then I would have to come up with new transitional material and you all know how much I hate writing endings to posts.
At any rate, be kind to yourself this fine Wednesday. May it be a “Good Enough” type of day (and may that be good enough!).