People think I have it all -- or so I've heard. I own two successful companies, have been married to the man of my dreams for 18 years (and am still crazy about him), have two beautiful children -- a boy and a girl -- and more "toys" than I know what to do with. In truth, life is good. Actually, that's not accurate. Life is great.
But, I have a confession. Well, several confessions I feel compelled to share. Why open up? Because as women, we tend to compare ourselves to others and as a result, undermine our own impact on the people around us. We limit our ability to do really great things in the world because rather than focusing on what we can do, we end up focusing on what we can't. Rather than celebrate our success, we replay our failures. No matter how hard we try, the good we do or the lives we change, it's not enough -- ever.
If you're a type A person, I imagine you can relate. Yet, I want to demystify this myth of perfection that we pursue for ourselves and envy in others. Yes, even that size 0 mom who drives the candy red BMW, whose hair is perfectly coifed every day, who attends each soccer game, volunteers at school daily and owns her own law firm, even she isn't perfect. Stop comparing yourself to her.
Professional speaking is a big part of my job. When I'm on stage, I make a point of showing my flaws. I don't paint my nails (I'm a mom of two, which means I clean, cook and garden -- can't do that with fake nails or at least I can't), leave small scuff marks on my shoes (does anyone really have time to polish them before catching a flight?) and tend to open up about my biggest failures. I don't want women to think I'm perfect, but instead human and flawed, just like them.
As women, we are more alike than we are different. Sadly, we don't talk about those similarities often enough. So whether you make $25,000 or $250,000 a year, drive a minivan or Mercedes, weigh 120 pounds or 220 pounds, are married or twice divorced, you are more like the woman you're comparing yourself to than you realize. Here are a few of my own confessions. See if you can relate:
1. I Feel Constant Pressure: I love being an entrepreneur, speaking, writing, consulting and giving to the world. Yet, I am oftentimes paralyzed by the trappings of my success. The pressure to perform -- from beating last year's numbers, weighing potential risks against possible rewards and making payroll every two weeks -- the pressure can be consuming. There isn't a week that goes by where I don't mentally ponder walking away from it all and moving to a small village in Tuscany. Yet in my heart, I know I'm not alone: The nurse going to work today feels pressure to make life or death decisions; the teacher enters her classroom consumed by the pressure of the clock... tick tock, tick tock... as she has eight minutes left to teach science, five more minutes to teach math and endless testing with benchmarks that are nearly impossible to hit with the conditions she works in. We are more alike than any of us realize.
2. I want to be a perfect wife: When I wrote my first book, 7 Steps to Successful Selling, I dedicated it to my mother and husband. It said, "To my mom who gave me my wings and to my husband who taught me how to use them." This is the best way to describe David. For 25 years he has been by my side, believing in me, loving me, encouraging me, dreaming with me and supporting me through good and bad. I think of Dave all the time and have so many words I long to say, yet I get wrapped up on the chaos of life -- with the kids, work, and home -- and fail to express what's on my mind. I want to say thanks for choosing me, thanks for being such an amazing father, thanks for standing by my side no matter what. And I do at times, but not enough. I'm not a perfect wife, I wish I were. I do hope that I'm a good wife. I imagine the nurse who works double shifts or the teacher who is beyond stressed can relate. I wonder if they too want to be a perfect wife, yet like me, settle for being a good wife and then ask, "Is that enough?" as guilt pervades their every thought.
3. I'm terrified to think of life after kids: I have two companies with lots to do on a daily basis. Yet, every so often, I'm reminded of how fleeting this moment of my life is -- that of being mommy. While I find myself complaining, what will I do when I don't have to cook three meals a day for my kids, clean up after them, do their laundry, go to sporting events or help with their homework? I love my career, but my kids are my life. Yes, I realize there is life after kids -- or so I hear from moms who have been there -- but this is a road I've not yet traveled and I'm terrified! Who's going to hug me 10 times a day, say "I love you mommy" over and over, and have dance parties with me on Friday nights? While many mothers long for their kids to grow up, I imagine there are lots like me who are scared to death to think of life beyond their children.
4. Good is never good enough: No matter how big I grow my company, how much money I save or bad habits I break -- like no more soda or staying up past eleven --It's never enough. I fail to savor my accomplishments because my good is never good enough. While someone might look at me and think, Wow, she perfect, I'm thinking, Not even close. At times, this pursuit of perfection can make me crazy.
5. I want more than my share: I'm consumed by living every single moment of my life to the fullest. Having held two people I loved while they passed from this life to the next, I'm acutely aware of my own mortality. Call me greedy, but I want to squeeze everything I can out of this life, from having a fun, romantic marriage; to taking my kids to see the world, to simple things like drinking seltzer water from a sparkly wine glass. I confess I want more because I'm afraid one day I'll wake up and it will soon be over. I want to play in the rain, sip lattes in Rome, zipline through a rain forest and slow dance in my kitchen.
As a society, we are quick to judge -- not just others, but ourselves. While we teach our kids about bullying, we fail to admit we live with one in our head. So, the next time you start to gang up on yourself whether it is guilt, fear or insecurity, remember that it's nothing more than proof you are alive. You are human, which means you are flawed. It's these imperfections that shape our character and make us who we are -- so embrace them and know that you are not alone.
Written by Traci Bild- Author, Speaker & Entrepreneur. Get a FREE Get Your Girl Back "Dream Journal" and spend some time off-line filling the pages with the hopes and dreams you hold close to your heart. Go to www.GYGB.com and click on "Free Downloads."
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