The thought of today during times that the nagging brain has not been blissfully engaged on an an overdue assignment, has been this. Am I being a realist, or am I being too hard on myself?
The thought germinated at lunch yesterday, when I insisted to my friend that while I am alright at work, I am an inefficient home-manager and she asked me why I was being hard on myself. I had justified to her that I was not being hard on myself, but just accepting of my flaws.
As I was swimming in the endorphins released from today’s lunch of soft-as-cotton rotis and delicious mixed grain masala thingie and boondi raitha, all of which I made on contingency because there was not a shred of any vegetable in my fridge today, I wondered if I was really as hopeless a home-maker as I like to claim. But, the nondescript sambar rice of breakfast popped into my head and rolled its eyes at me.
So, I have some good moments, some bad…as does everyone, I hope, but why is it that I fixate on the bad and never the good when it comes to myself? I can’t wake up early. I can’t cook well. My home is sometimes messy. I don’t ferry my kid from class to class and ensure that she wins the competition of life. I am horrible at parties. I am boring to talk to. I don’t go out to work.
But you know, equally true, if ignored, are the other sides to the same coins. I can stay up late. I cook three meals a day. My home is sometimes tidy. I am not the tiger mom who considers life a competition that my child must win. I am happy to be by myself. I am a fantastic listener. I work a lot more at home.
Funnily enough, I judge others and myself on different standards. When other people’s houses are neat and stylish, they are neat and stylish. When mine is neat, it is too antiseptic. When other people’s houses are messy, they are “lived-in” and comforting. Mine is plain messy. When other people cook well, they are good cooks. When I do, its an exception. Others take care of work and family with elan, I am botching up both.
As an exercise, I took a break while writing this post and thought about my life today. The first thing that came to mind was that I have not dusted the table beside me in a while and there is a micrometric layer of dust on it and the clothes are still lying on the cane chair since last night, waiting to be folded. Only after these did I think of the assignment I finished today and the refrigerator I stocked for the next few days with vegetables I got during my run to school to pick up the kid – multitasking or what.
Part of the reason for this is mindset. Some people are born with enough self esteem to spare others. You won’t find one of those writing this blog. But an important reason is also upbringing. The Hindu upbringing does not allow one to feel good about any achievement – it is a sign of gloating, and is a sin. Not only are we not allowed to talk about our own achievements, but are not even allowed to praise others, because …I don’t know why. I remember a time when I was in seventh class, I had passed Praveen Uthrardh, the highest exam in Hindi for non Hindi speakers, probably the youngest to have done so at that time, and yet when I wanted to share it with my aunts and uncles, my mother said “don’t, they would consider you vain”.
In my recent interest in meditation, I have been reading about metta or “loving compassion”. I still can’t understand what that is all about, but I know that judging myself harshly is definitely not part of it. But it feels wrong to not be harsh on myself – would I become complacent if I did not trash myself? The head tells me to not be an idiot but the heart won’t listen. What if the head is right, and I AM an idiot?