I grew up knowing that I was smart. I was told that I was smart in every way from the time I could walk and all the way through my school days. I was an adult and living on my own before I didn't have at least a weekly conversation that included one of my parents or relatives or friends telling me how smart I was.
Sounds like a great thing, doesn't it.
Except that in my world "smart" came with expectations. I was supposed to behave better than the average 7 year old (mostly, I understand that I did). I was only supposed to take academic courses...all of the academic courses in high school. My father still occasionally mentions how I did not take chemistry in high school! And did so on my graduation day from university. (Insert a deep sigh and an eye roll here.)
I was supposed to be perfect.
How does a person live with the expectation of perfection? Especially when the other message that you get is that you are failing all the time.
My father, though blessed with many wonderful traits, is not a man of patience for himself or others. And he always feels as though he is failing, thus projecting that onto his kids. If I wasn't getting marks over 80%, then I was failing. I didn't take the courses he wanted me to take, so I failed. These days, it is that I don't have a child who is female...my beautiful, smart, healthy kids are boys! (Now, if anyone were to take issue with his grandsons, there would be hell to pay! He adores them. He just wants a granddaughter too.)
It's not that these are smacks of failure. Billboards advertising it. Or out and out telling me that I have failed. More like whisperings and suggestions of other things I should have done or ought to be doing. Subtle undercurrents. You could miss them. I did for a long, long time.
What does a person do with an expectation of perfection and a whispering voice that says you are failing? How does a person dig out from under all of that to just be?