As the mom of 2 girls who are pretty close in age, I find myself struggling with the balance of building up their self-esteem but understanding that failure is a part of growing as a person. I want them to know how proud I am of all their achievements. I want them to know that as long as they choose a path in life that makes them happy, I will always be proud of them. I want them to know that I love each of them equally, for different reasons, and strive to never hold one of them to a higher standard than the other. I hope that they never look back on their childhood and feel like they disappointed me with any kind of regularity.
I say all of this because as an adult, I struggle heavily with feeling like a failure at most things, especially when it comes to anything having to do with my parents. My childhood, while it had many good things, had more than its fair share of moments when I was made to feel like I was a huge disappointment to my parents. Much of it had to do with my younger brother being put on a pedestal and treated with what seemed like a complete different set of standards. Some of it was brought on by my own stupid adolescent decisions in certain situations, but it seemed like there was a huge amount of pressure put on me from an early age to reach a certain standard. And not reaching that standard resulted in yelling, belittling and taking away things that were given to me as gifts because I didn’t perform as expected.
I can remember taking tours of Ivy League college campuses from the age of 13. Yet when it came time to tour colleges that I was actually interested in (and could possibly gain admission to), it appeared more of a bother to my parents. A let down. I’ve often felt that no matter what I accomplish in my life, it will never be the standard that my parents expected of me. And this feeling is perpetuated when I hear my parents bragging about how proud they are of my brother and his graduating from an expensive name-brand university and his powerful career and the fact that my father is parading him around to his business colleagues because “this kid is going somewhere”.
I’m really hoping that this feeling dissipates over time because it really sucks that I can’t even make it through a family dinner without spending an hour crying in the bathroom over my father criticizing my choice of dinner venues. Those are some deep-seeded issues. And I’m sick of feeling this way.
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