For her birthday this year my mother-in-law requested that each of her descendants and their spouses write something about themselves for her to keep in a book and read over and over again. Worst. Assignment. Ever. Not because I don't like writing, but because I have a hard time being serious about myself. She wanted to know my goals and dreams and aspirations and all I could think of, literally, was that my life's ambition is for my boobs to stick out farther than my stomach. Somehow that doesn't sound as noble as "Be the world's best mother", which I'm sure someone else was bound to write, being as pretty much everyone else is more noble than I am.
And honestly, I've approached my life's ambition in the way that I approach 90% of the goals in my life -- that is, it would be nice if it happened, but I don't actually want to do anything about it. (Especially not eliminate brownies from my diet, because a life without brownies is no life at all, in my opinion). I briefly considered giving my mother-in-law a blank piece of paper with http://www.overlys.blogspot.com/ written at the top, but decided that would only expose my various ineptitudes in greater detail and make her wonder even more than she already does how someone like me could snag someone as wonderful as her son. Not that I blame her. Sometimes I wonder myself. (And if I forget to wonder, she reminds me ;>).
Don't get me wrong, I think my mother-in-law likes me. But I think she understands me about as well as the average citizen understands the tax code, which is to say, about as well as your average squid understands Keynesian economics.
So I tried to think of something better to write. But it was hard once I started thinking about what everyone else was writing and what everyone else in the family does well, and then I got a guilt complex about the fact that I've never made a quiet book and that playing Candyland with my kids makes me want to stick pins in my eyes. Sooooo boring. They don't tell you that about motherhood, you know, that a lot of it is totally mind numbing. And then you get on Facebook and see all the zillions of cute things every other mother is doing with her kids and you're like, "All I want to do is hide in the bathroom with Time Magazine. What is wrong with me?"
But that is not exactly the type of open-ended question you want to ask your mother-in-law.
Then I came to the realization that too much of our perception of self comes from whether we are superior or inferior to someone else. Too many of our goals don't move us forward because they're based on what someone else might think of us. And too many of our flaws rise to the surface because we've stacked them on top of everyone else's strengths.
I may fall short a lot, but I'm trying.
And sometimes that's all you can do.