It’s so difficult to achieve balance and to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to volunteering or feeling you are helping others out. This is especially true if you are a helper by nature. Trust me, I know this from personal experience. Years ago, when I worked at Hallmark Cards, my husband used to tell me to sit on my hands during meetings, so I wouldn’t volunteer for another responsibility or activity. It has taken me years to learn to say “no” and to not feel guilty (well at least not too guilty).
The thing is, as women, we are asked, no expected, to volunteer for a zillion things. Room mom, VBS teacher, chaperone, classroom helper, PTO officer, Girl Scout troop leader – these are just a few of the many activities that come our way repeatedly. Add to that the tug to make meals for people who are going through tough times or just had a baby. Then, try to balance that with the plethora of activities we need to do with and for our family – chaperone, cook, laundress, head cleaner, homework tutor, social planner etc. It just gets overwhelming. That’s where setting our boundaries comes in. We need to balance our lives.
I was recently reading a wonderful book that had a great chapter on setting boundaries. It’s For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker. She is very humorous and her book was a lot of fun to read, but it also addressed issues important to all women. She talks about how we women have been sold a bill of goods and how nearly impossible it is to balance work and family and community.
She writes, “No one can pull this off. No one is pulling this off. The women who seem to ride this unicorn only display the best parts of their stories. Trust me. No one can fragment her time and attention into this many segments.”
“The trouble is, we have a close access to women who excel in each individual sphere. With social media and it’s carefully selected messaging, we see career woman killing it, craft mom slaying, chef moms now, Christian leaders working it. We register their beautiful yards, homemade green chili enchiladas, themed birthday party’s, eight week Bible study series, chore-charts, Ab routines, ‘10 tips for a healthy marriage’, career best practices, volunteer work, and family fun night ideas. We make note of their achievements, cataloging their successes and observing their talents. Then combine the best of everything we see, Every woman we admire and every genre, and conclude: I should be all of that.”
Isn’t Jen spot on? This is so true? Everywhere we look, we are reminded of how much better we could be doing and how much more we should be doing.
Jen also writes, “The only thing worse than this unattainable standard is the guilt that follows when perfection proves impossible” and “We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.”
I love this. Quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise. We all need to work on setting boundaries in order to achieve better balance and live happier, more fulfilling lives.
Image: “Stacking Stones” by Michelle Meiklejohn courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net