The occasion calls for more rumination on the idea of setting the bar for ones’ self and what that entails. My immediate impression is that, in engagements, social or otherwise, I tend to set the bar higher than average so that even if I don’t meet my own expectations, I’ll still surpass what others may expect of me. It’s a good way to make sure I can surprise folks from time to time and build a positive reputation. But it’s also probably an unfortunate product of growing up around smart folks and honor rolls and all the rubrics we’ve erected and probably isn’t sustainable.
I suppose the important part of “setting a bar” is what that bar means. By its nature, it’s a contract with yourself. “I, the undersigned, agree to provide (an entertaining evening/an impressive composition/my enthusiastic and considerate support). The important part to me is the rigidity of that goalpost. It is a (relatively) fixed benchmark to meet or exceed. I like to keep my bar set high because, at the very least, it means that even if my output isn’t perfect, it should be more than sufficient. The catch is I can’t lower it. The only way to stave off the entropy of complacency is to set goals high. My fear, I suppose, is that the moment I decide to cut myself some slack once, it might become easier to repeatedly lower aspirations until what was once a regular feat becomes a rarity.
Now this also means I don’t get a ton of satisfaction in the moment. I have to give myself credit in hindsight, when all’s said and done. I’ll process your compliment, thank you’s and kind words tomorrow, because right now I’ve gotta worry. Make sure that everything is always improving. Is everyone having a good time? Am I making entertaining conversation? I should smile more shouldn’t I? This could use more work couldn’t it? Am I working out enough? Maybe when the dust from the anxious whirlwind has settled I’ll stop and think “Yeah, that went well.” Is there a better way to go about this? Probably, but it lies buried under the rubble of years of failing to be a satisfied “B” student. Somewhere beneath these crumbled moments and misshapen bricks there’s probably the blueprint to building a more stable and functional house. But for now, I take consolation that my teetering pile of stuff is probably more interesting to look at.
And there a wreath of trillium and ivy Laid upon the body of a boy Lazy will the loam come from its hiding Return this quiet searcher to the soil