There has been much written about finding balance and setting priorities in order to feel comfortable with our roles as women in busy work or family environments. Certainly one of the topics that comes up frequently with my friends is our own high expectations and how these can set us up to feel that we are just not able to get a handle on things. I think, too, about our girls who often speak of their own stress. While they are usually able to cope well, when they reflect after the fact they realize they could help themselves by having more balance in their lives. The need to pause and even lower one’s standards is something to consider.
I was reminded of this on a couple of occasions this week. The first time was when I stepped out of my office to find three grads sitting on the antique couch around the corner. Several weeks before, this same group of girls had decided that they would wander the School during their spare and locate the various couches to determine which were best: the most comfortable, accessible, etc. In talking with them this week, they had decided that this common spare would be used to further their ‘couch research’, creating a rubric and measurables to assist them in their quest. What I love most about this is that these girls have decided that this down time is to be used for fun and even a little creativity -despite the work that they may have.
And I couldn’t help smiling as I thought of the assumption that our girls are always working. At St. Clement’s we work hard, but we play hard too. And that was what I reflected on during a late night discussion with three close friends on Friday. One of these women has three young children and I think it is safe to say she, like so many of us, has very high expectations for herself. She was telling us that she had felt overwhelmed and sought some advice. The advice she received might seem contrary to what we are used to, but it stayed with me over the weekend and we kept coming back to it. She was told that too often we are over-functioning: trying to do too much at a very high level. The advice given to her was that she needed to under-function more often. The more we discussed and reflected on this the more we realized how true it is: sometimes we are more effective when we are under-functioning.
While we laughed quite a lot about how much we under-functioned this weekend, it is my hope that this topic comes up again at our alumnae networking event. Much can be said about the challenges we create for ourselves in trying to be the very best all the time- often at the cost of doing the best for ourselves.