Virginia Barton

3 October 2014: Limits, and recognising them

 

3 October 2014

 

Are you good at knowing your limits? As one’s eyes are bigger than one’s stomach, so one’s imagination may be very much larger than one’s capabilities.

keep-calm-and-know-your-limits-5From an early age I have assumed I can do pretty much anything I fancy. Aged six I tackled a small mountain and got about half way up when my shoe fell off and rolled away. Making the mistake of turning round and looking down, I took fright, burst into tears, and sat rooted to the spot clinging to the bracken. Fortunately my father was picnic’ing at ground level and climbed up murmuring comforting noises, rescuing the shoe en route.

Now I’m seventy-seven and still biting off more than I can chew.

 

It’s a vanity thing, an urge to look big, show off. Possibly being number three in a family of four achieving sisters has something to do with it.

Like when I initiated painting our classroom at school. A gang of Lower Fives gathered enthusiastically on a Saturday morning with blue and yellow emulsion paint at the ready. For a whole day we put all our energies into that classroom (which was huge), leaving it half-finished. Only a handful turned up the following week, of course, and the job was left undone. The Head Mistress kindly congratulated us on our initiative and arranged for redecoration at the end of term.

Presumably we’ve all done this sort of thing, but I have never learned from experience.

 

“For goodness’ sake, why on earth did you agree to do that? Who do you think you are, Superman?”

Says BH, as I crumple in a heap of teary exhaustion. As I said, it’s a vanity thing; I see people in their eighties climb Everest, abseil down skyscrapers, or run half marathons – why not little me?

 

Suffice it to say, I think I’ve now realised that I am neither Mary Poppins nor Marmee. I came up against my chosen brick wall, went thump, slap bang into it, and only just managed to pull it off, as it were.

CoffeeYou’ll laugh when you know that it was only the organising of a simple coffee morning for charity. Something I would have done falling off a log in the old days. There was a month of sleepless nights after sending out the invitations and knowing I was committed. Lack of appetite resulted in noticeable weight loss: 4 lbs. ( no bad thing). A sort of sagging appearance round the jowls and a serious lack of humour, cheeriness and jollity. And a mindset that went round and round in a worry of repeated phrases such as have you done this, you didn’t remember that, where’s the so and so.

I reckon I’ve lost weeks of my life to a project someone else could have undertaken JUST as well, if not better.

Never again, not even for nearest and dearest should they ask me which they won’t, because of course they got roped in and had to help dig me out of the hole I’d got myself into.

 

Does everybody make this sort of silly mistake? Please admit if so. It surely can’t only be me?

 

Enough self-flagellation. The lesson has at last been learned.

 

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