Even though my son only goes to school three mornings a week, I still feel like the back to school season is a fresh start for me. It almost seems like August is a Mother’s own January where potential is on the horizon and we have the power to make changes and start fresh and have a new lease on life. We set goals, want to do things differently, make new friends, and not repeat the same mistakes we did last year. Do you ever feel this anticipation or excitement in potential?
But if August is our fresh start then we must avoid the mistakes that come with setting New Year’s Resolutions for ourselves, because the tragic truth about resolutions is that more often than not they simply lead to disappointment. We set unrealistic goals (lose 30 pounds in 2 months), and have expectations that we would never place on anyone other than ourselves (make a home cooked meal from only organic produce with no saturated fats every single night for the rest of the year!) It just isn’t realistic to set goals like this and if you know this going into the year then you can save yourself the disappointment of not measuring up.
I am going to guess that you might have some idea about what I am talking about. Whether your fresh start comes with the crisp air of January or the sharpened pencils of August, we all crave the chance to start new; we just think we should reinvent the wheel instead of just tightening the spokes. So why do we still do this to ourselves? Because we are women, because we are mothers, and because we live in Scottsdale. Yup, I just wrote that. Our community offers so many wonderful things (hiking, amazing restaurants, great opportunity for community, lots to do with kiddos) but I feel like what it accomplishes in great things to do it sorely lacks for in authenticity, realness, and the opportunity to just be yourself, be where you are and stop trying to be like everyone else. We are so busy worrying about our image and fitting in and whether or not we can make it here, we lose sight of what really matters in relationships: truthfulness.
Sure you might encourage your children to be themselves when you send them off to their first day of school, but are you doing the same? We teach our children to be kind and play nicely and not be mean to others but can you say the same for yourself when you meet a group of other Mom’s? Whether we will admit it or not, to some degree, we all scan the room and make judgments on who is dressed the cutest, who seems funny or engaging, whose children are behaving properly…and then often times these assessments shape our decision to approach (or not approach) certain women. Our insecurity drives these decisions, not our true self. This only leads to a vicious cycle of setting high expectations, falling short, feeling defeated only to see another round of high expectations to make yourself feel better about potentially accomplishing those in light of the fact that you couldn’t do it the first time around. And on and on the cycle goes.
Do yourself a favor this fall as you engage in new schedules and friends and opportunity: tell yourself how great you are. Seriously! Give yourself some credit for who you are and be thankful for what you bring to the table. Now I am not talking about a “You’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me” pep talk era SNL in the 90’s but I am encouraging you to start focusing on your strengths and gifting before you start thinking that someone else has so much more going for them then you think you do.
As the school bell rings this season let it serve as a reminder for you too. Be kind, and caring toward others and remember than no one person can ever do anything alone. You will never measure up the way you want to if you only have your own thoughts to battle throughout your day. If you are struggling, talk to someone: a friend, mentor, therapist and let that person redirect that negative self-talk into a more encouraging and uplifting conversation in your head. You have every opportunity to make a fresh start right now…maybe it should begin within.