I can't relax because to relax is to fail.
Feeling like a failure is not a new thing to me, but not being able to relax because of it is.
When I was homeschooling all three kids, I could relax - when I got a chance - because I felt good about what we'd accomplished that day or week, even if it was just a good walk and conversation at Duke Gardens. Even last spring, when I was only homeschooling younger son, we were busy together so I could relax when we weren't doing things together.
This spring, younger son is in the 13 yo "hibernate-in-your-room" stage. We see him at meals and, occasionally, for other things. I know it's a stage - daughter mentioned that at that age all she wanted to do is read in her room, and she's so busy in college that she doesn't have time to read things outside her classwork.
We take a break from formal homeschooling for the nice weather in the spring and the fall. It's a quieter break than usual because younger son is so solitary. I should be enjoying this as a time to relax, garden, read, blog, etc.
Instead, I'm spending a good bit of it feeling like a failure. If I'm homeschooling or even doing casual things like hikes with my kids or dear husband, I feel like I'm accomplishing something important. If I'm not doing something with them - on a day mostly to myself - it doesn't matter how much I do, I feel like a failure.
Between yesterday and today, I got a good bit of the house cleaned up, straightened up things in the yard, organized a bunch of things including upcoming trips, and I feel like a failure. It doesn't matter how many non-family-interactive things I do, it never feels like enough.
Even if I try to relax, I mostly just spend the time feeling like a failure for not getting things done. The only way around that is to play obsessive rounds of computer games.
I feel like I'm actually relaxing less now than when I was homeschooling all three. I don't feel like I deserve to relax.
I wrote a comment on the post, When Your Kid is an Introvert (ish), at Introverted Church this morning. I lost it because my aging computer can't handle whatever the website needed for posting a comment (I don't deserve a new computer, though)(I've already updated Firefox, and it works worse than before).
Part of the comment merges in with this current post, though. I wrote about how, even though older son is much more introverted than I am, he actually interacts with people better. Except for close friends and close family, I approach most social interactions as tests, in which, I'm either going to fail, or, maybe, do okay. I never do well. I should have listened better, made better responses, had more energy, or talked (listened) longer. Or, HORRORS, I actually slipped up and let one of my own opinions out rather than just reflecting their opinions back.
On the other hand, as introverted as he is, older son just enjoys people. He may need lots of time to himself later, but he approaches social interactions as enjoyable experiences, not tests with a very likely risk of failure (my approach).
This is one thing that amazes me about all three of my kids. People like them, which amazes me because how can someone as unlikeable as myself have kids that people like?! Obviously, it comes from somewhere else on their genetic background.
Socially, I have to work really hard to reflexively listen to people and always do what they want - not to be liked (I never expect that), but just in order to get along.
A year ago, I went to one of the "meet the Rector" lunches that we had at our church. We started out going around the table and introducing ourselves - maybe a 45 second introduction.
45 seconds, and I was interrupted by others. Twice.
Nobody else was interrupted.
The rest of the lunch didn't go all that well, either. I'm not great at Episcopalian small talk. I came home feeling like a failure and mentioned it on Facebook.
I got a number of commiserations, but I also had one wise friend mention that, if others were interrupting me, it sounds like I was not the one failing in social interactions.
Here's the part where I say that I learned something about social interactions from that friend, but I didn't really. I still expect lots out of myself - particularly in expecting myself to always adjust to what other people want. To do anything else but adjust seems selfish.
[Oh, I have a two part post about some really throught provoking blog posts I ran across last week on church and community. I didn't post it so as not to offend anyone.]
[By the way, I'm not insulting you by saying you don't want your thoughts provoked. You'd probably be fine with what they wrote; it's my writing that's the problem.]
[Yesterday, on the way to early voting, I wrote a post in my head about the absolutely unneccessary, un-Biblical, immoral, and bigoted North Carolina Amendment that is up for a vote in two weeks. I didn't even write the post because it's too opinionated and might offend someone. [Oooops! Too late.]]
By the way, even though I gardened for an hour this morning, I'm currently a failure because I'm inside writing on the computer rather than out in the sun gardening. I'm also a failure because I don't take long hikes like a real hiker (Our hikes generally aren't longer than 3-4 miles, and they're often shorter.). I don't read enough so I'm a failure. I don't practice flute/voice enough so I'm a failure. I'm a 50 year old who dances so I'm a failure.*
Even the fun things turn into occasions of failure.
Last summer, during the summer, community theater musical, I was not only in the general dance scene, with about 30 other cast members, I was in the featured dance group. I both beat myself up mentally for being a failure at the dancing and kept going anyway because the dancing was so much fun.
Was I doing a bad job at the dancing? Actually, probably not. I remembered all the choreography and got at least some of the style into it. I practiced it lots at home. But...
I was the only one anywhere near my age in the (around) thirty person dance section and in the six person featured group. I think the next oldest dancer was 15 years younger than I was, and most of them were in their teens and 20's. WTF was a, shall we say non-skinny, 49 year doing dancing with them?! I was a failure just by dancing. Everyone else near my age was watching the dancers in the dance scene (which you can see an early rehearsal of on Facebook. I hesitated to post a link because this was taped the last run-through of the evening, and I was tired and losing focus. Daughter, older son, and I are all wearing green. Daughter is in the front at the beginning, and older son and I are on the right in the second part. Older son is not the prince, who is also wearing green.)(Here's a link to a photo where we've all fallen down from exhaustion after the dance. I'm in dark blue in front of the prince's feet.)(My, that dress makes me look curvy. I loved that dress.)
Ooops, sorry for the digression. Anyway, I was too old to be dancing, but it was too fun to pass up. As is obvious from that digression, I'm also a failure for enjoying things too much. Part of the reason I'm so quiet in person is that I get too enthusiastic about things. That's one thing I like about my blog - I can bubble over about something without looking at people rolling their eyes.
[Of course you may be rolling your eyes right now, but I can't see it so it's your problem.]
[I'm gaining a bit of attitude by writing this post, aren't I?]
By the way, absolutely NOBODY in the community theater EVER said anything about my being older - well, except for daughter and older son who told me that I was being silly and to stop worrying about it.
I felt like I was holding my breath for the last week. I auditioned for this summer's musical last Monday evening. The chorus supposed to be only half the size of last year's chorus. I was really worried that I wouldn't get in. Yes, I can dance, somewhat, and sing in harmony (on-key), but I'm not good at acting.
Older son graduates from college next year so this could be his last summer musical here.
It's also a good part of my social life for the year. Strangely, since acting is a new thing for me, I do feel like I can be myself there.
I wanted to be in it so badly. I could hardly concentrate on anything all week (boy, was I a failure!).
I found out yesterday evening that I'm in the chorus (so is older son, but he's good at singing and acting). I was so happy I cried.
There are two things I can when I'm a failure. I can either attitude myself out of it, which I, surprisingly, appear to have done here. I can also embrace the failure. I'm a lousy person/Christian/Episcopalian/whatever. As a result, it doesn't really matter what I do - I'm a failure - so I might as well do whatever I think is best or whatever I feel like.
* Although, I was often criticized by other teenagers/college students for not being a typical teenager/college student. I've never been good at acting my age.