Every now and then, I allow myself to become entangled in crippling feelings of inadequacy. Then I remember I don’t have to feel this way. Nobody gets everything done with excellence all of the time. I don’t care what lies they tell me or themselves — it’s simply not possible.
I work full-time as a high school English teacher. I’m married and am still raising two of my children. That’s plenty to juggle, and there’s never enough time.
My home is often in disarray. I battle piles of grading. I suspect many who read this are facing a similarly impossible list of demands. Adult life isn’t as sleek and attractive as I thought it would be when I wasn’t one.
Then there’s this crazy dream of building a new life as a writer someday. It’s gone from a feeble spark in the back of my consciousness to a fire in my belly, beckoning me to figure out how to make it happen.
A little here, a little there — that’s how I’m trying to keep up with writing. I’ve been slogging along, trying to get the first draft of my first novel written. Writing, pitching, and trying to build a new author website vie for the scraps of time I have remaining after work and family demands. This is not good or bad — it is simply the way it is.
I don’t believe in unicorns. Sure, they’re cool to think about, and I wish they were real. But the truth is, they don’t exist in our world and neither does the person who can do and be it all.
In the past five years or so, I’ve gradually been making peace with my limitations. This is not admitting defeat — it’s facing reality. I suppose this is part of the midlife journey. In my twenties, I was too naive to know I couldn’t do it all. In my thirties, I was determined to do it all because not to would make me feel like a failure.
In my forties, I’m enjoying freedom from pressure to do it all. I know my limits and better understand what should be a priority and what shouldn’t. This knowledge brings me peace. I no longer feel defeated and guilty when I can’t get everything done.
Nobody gets it all done all the time because life keeps on flowing. There’s always something else to do. Learning to do what we can and embrace the fullness of life along the way is how we must live. Not as perfectly successful people, but imperfect ones who do their best and know their limits.