Family, Uncategorized

How “Just Make it A Priority” Sabotages Yourself and Those Around You.

I know that there have been other’s who have blogged about this, in fact, there is one I read about a year ago that I really liked and it resonated with me, and for all things good, I cannot find her post to be able to link you to it.  Because what she says is… thought provoking at the least, and action changing at best.  The point of her article: By continually telling others to “just make it a priority to…” we, however unintentionally, tear them down and cause them to feel inferior.  I am not trying to copy her post here- this is something I started writing after someone telling me to “just make [something] a priority” reduced me to tears during an overwhelming time in my life.  I am finishing it up now because in finding it, I am reminded to more soft and charitable in my own approach to others.

 

Women, in particular, it seems to me, are balancing so much.  Women my age may be balancing both children and aging parents, possibly grandchildren, as well as jobs and a relationship.  Not to mention households.  Somewhere they might fit in their own health, spiritual, physical and mental needs in.  But they are often playing a game of This or That.  And they experience envy when they see someone with something that they can’t or don’t have, and wonder why they are inferior such that they can’t have that too– because if they would “just make it a priority….” they could have that.

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What they aren’t seeing is what that other person gave up in order to have that which they envy.  Are they willing to trade something you have, in order to have what someone else has? Are they willing to “Just make [what someone else has] a priority?”  And, in the process risk losing something else they have?  To get the big house, would they give up being a stay at home mom?  To get super fit, would they give up the art classes they take?

Everything in life has a cost, even if it’s not in dollars.   Are we willing to pay that cost?  And, if someone is struggling to find the balance in the costs they are willing to pay, why do we respond as if their priorities are wrong?  It is not wrong for both parents to work so that they can provide a nice home and car, classes, experiences and vacations to their kids.  It is also not wrong for one parent to stay home so that they can provide care for and teach their kids things that they know- be it about cleaning or nature or camping or all of it or something else entirely.  Neither of these decisions indicates that one set of parents loves their children more than the other- it just indicates that they do it differently.  And each family gives up something that the other has, in order to have what they have.

It is completely unrealistic to think that if we “just need to make it a priority” and then we can have it all.

The reason: there is a finite number of hours in a day.

Total Shocker, I know.   Surprised me too.

I think the first time I realized that the number of hours was finite was in college.  Now, I didn’t go to college right after high school.  Nope, I got married and had babies.  My daughter was born two months before I turned 19 (see why I worry so much about my stepdaughter- I know how hard it is, and I was lucky in ways that I won’t delve into here).  For my second, I recall telling family on my 21st birthday when they asked what I would be drinking, that I would be drinking ginger ale because I had just learned that I was pregnant.  So, back on point, I started college when I was 21.  I powered my way through my freshman year, working full time, and taking care of kids and a by then disabled husband.  I went on sheer adrenaline I guess.  I was an honors student.  I shoved my way through my sophomore year, by sheer willpower I suppose.  Still working full time, still a full-time student, still on the dean’s list.

Then my junior year hit.  I now had a three-year-old and six-year-old.  I was getting tired.  It was getting hard.  By then I had a full-time job, a part-time job, an unemployable husband (and on the way to divorce) and was still in school full-time.  And, now I had very ill grandparents to add to the mix.  I just kept fitting more and more in, some sort of scheduling magic- or was it?

those are your powers

One day I walked into my favorite class for a test.  Now, I am a stellar test taker.  Not intending to brag on myself, but I am.  I study, sure, but I also don’t get nervous and have an easy time navigating my way through them.  They don’t bother me.  I am usually very quick, one of the first people to turn my answers in.  But not this day.  This day, I was the last person in the room, and time was running out, and my brain was stalling.  I could not find a way to reason through a problem that I knew I should know.

So did my professor.

Because just the prior week I had explained it to the entire class.

He took pity on me and helped me through it.  And then did something I didn’t expect.  He asked me what was going on.

Granted, I attended a smaller campus for college, individual attention was not unheard of, and the professors there really and truly cared about their students.  They knew me, they didn’t worry about me even though I was doing too much because I had shown that I could handle it.  Until that day.  And I told him all the things, and he listened and then asked:

“How much sleep are you getting?”

My response: “I go to bed by midnight, one AM at the latest.  I have to get up at 7, and need at least six hours, though I can only do that for a couple of days before I have to get seven or eight.”

He did me the favor of hearing every word.  “I didn’t ask when you laid down, I asked how much you were sleeping.  Your body and your mind, in particular, an active and busy mind such as yours, need time to wind down before you go to sleep.  How much sleep are you getting?”

*deer in the headlights*

*blink*

*blink*

*sleep?*

I walked out that day with some things to mull on.

And I realigned my priorities.  I would get the education, one way or another, but knowing Grandma, that was something I had a limited time frame to do it in, being a mom as well, offered limits.   Work, was necessary for our day to day survival, even with generous financial aid and scholarships.  Something had to give.  So from that day forward, I selected one class each semester.  That class was my “C” class.  It was the class that as long as I walked out with a C, it got truncated… if the work was half done and it was eleven at night, I stopped.  If I had a chance to see grandma and that meant that I only completed half an assignment, that was the class I left half completed.  And I felt so much better, and to this day I do not regret one single moment of letting something NOT be a priority.  Now, were there times when I said: “I wish I could have gotten that assignment done.”  Yep.  And someone could have replied, “Well, if you would I just make this class a priority it would be.”

And they would be right, technically. 

But, it wasn’t right for me.

When we imply, much less out right say,  that someone”just” make it a priority, it makes it sound as if making it a priority is easy, and necessary, and that person is deficient if they don’t make that thing a priority too.  We point out and validate the perception of failure that someone else is already feeling.

And, that is how we sabotage ourselves, and each other with the phrase “Just Make it A  Priority”.

So, when someone says “I wish…..” Perhaps, instead of “just make it a priority”, we can remind each other of what we have in place of that thing someone is wishing for, and then offer a baby step.   “I know you wish you could home cook all of your meals, but you are so busy with Johnny’s appointments and classes, and he does so well at them, it can be hard to make for time for that.  I do have some easy recipes that might help you get some meals in if you would like. If not, that is OK too, Johnny will be fine.”

Let me know your thoughts!

Love to all, Anda

 

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