When I received my school report card, I always knew what to expect. My grades were typically A’s and B’s with the occasional hard earned C in math or science. And then there was the comments section. No matter what grade I was in, my teachers would always check off
#2–conscientious and dependable.
These two words followed me all through grade school and into middle school and high school. I was considered by my teachers as a reliable and responsible student. I had great follow through on assignments and could always be counted on to never miss a deadline.
Being conscientious and dependable is a great thing for parents to see on their child’s report card, but it is a lot to live up to in real life. As an adult, I think some would say that I’m a conscientious and dependable employee, parent and spouse – but for me, perhaps this is to a fault.
The last thing I ever want to do is let anyone down. And when I do, I feel anything but conscientious and dependable. I feel awful about it.
I’ll never forget the time my best friend asked me to pick up her kids from school and bring them home so they wouldn’t have to walk home in the pouring rain. I guess I had a lot to do that particular day because when I got to school, I picked up my own kids and drove off, completely forgot about hers. She forgave me because that is what best friends do, but I’m still bothered by it many years later. To this day when she asks me to pick up her kids, I put a note on my steering wheel and a reminder in my calendar so I never forget them again.
But I can’t do this for everything and everyone. These days, I’m trying to give myself a break. It is almost impossible to always be that kind of person to everyone in all facets of life–no matter how much I want to. When I’m working hard at my job, I’m forgetting something or someone at home. There are so many loose ends swimming around in my head, too many to-do’s on my list, and lots of projects whose status ranges from not yet started to not quite done.
If I could go back in time to my teachers, I’d rather them put in the comment – “she tries her best.” That puts a whole different spin on things – don’t you think? So much less pressure on myself. Just think of all the anxiety I could let go of if trying my best was good enough and equally appreciated.
In the end, I think a change in my own attitude is what will ultimately allow me to be kinder to myself. In my own mind, trying my best will now supersede conscientious and dependable. And if I cross something off my to-do list, that will be nice. And if I try to get something done, but it doesn’t go as planned, I will still pat myself on the back for trying.