From High Expectations to ICU

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Do you ever feel overwhelmed because of all the expectations placed on you? Expectations to be smarter, prettier, happier… more than you are? I do. Goodness gracious, I do. My whole life feels like one big, giant expectation to be more than I can be — and that is exhausting.

There’s been a lot of self-reflection in my life the past three weeks. Three days in ICU and a near-death experience can certainly make one think… and think I did. Let’s face it, readers — how many times have I blogged about needing to be a Mary, and how many times have I actually been a Mary? I get so bogged down in doing that I forget to just sit and be.

Someone once asked me what my favorite animal was — an analytical question, because he believed that we choose animals with traits that we admire. My answer was (and still is) a hippopotamus.

“Megan, that is bizarre. Why a hippopotamus?” you might be asking as you read this. “What traits can a hippo possibly have that you desire?” And to that, I say many — because, you see, hippos have it made. They’re huge. Scary as hell. No one would dare to bother such an intimidating creature… and then there is the sitting. They sit, nostrils and eyes above the water, the rest just floating in whatever watery spot they’ve found… and no one bothers them. No one expects anything of them. They just are.

I’ve made a name for myself as the “Social Butterfly.” First given this oh-so-lovely nickname in third grade, it’s followed me through the years and seems quite reluctant to relinquish its grasp on my life… and with such a nickname there come expectations. “Are you okay?” “Why aren’t you talking?” “What’s wrong?” The world seems to believe that I (the girl who wishes she was a hippopotamus) am quite possibly the most talkative girl in the entire world — automatically making something quite wrong when I’m not jibber-jabbering away like a madwoman.

As I sit in my favorite Knoxville coffee shop listening to my best friend sing “Take It to the Limit” in the most beautiful way imaginable, it’s hard to imagine a world in which I don’t feel the pressure of too many expectations. Billy Joel sang it best when he said, “And you’ll have to deal with / Pressure / You used to call me paranoid / Pressure / But even you cannot avoid / Pressure.” Leave it to Billy to put my thoughts into song!

My post-hospital life has been unique. I’ve had to reevaluate the things that are most important to me and rule out the things that aren’t. I’ve gone from two jobs to just one (a job that I love, at that). I’ve gone from spending time with every single person who asks to telling folks that I simply need time for myself… and I’ve gone from doing too many things I don’t care about to making time for those I do care about — Bible study. Music. Photography. My passions.

I do an excellent job of sitting and stewing and making myself unbearably anxious… but when it all boils down to it, the expectations I place on myself are ridiculously unrealistic — and by making myself anxious, I’m not doing anyone any good. It’s funny, because in this short time, I’ve felt more peace about slowing down than I ever thought possible.

The world is too beautiful to rush through it without smelling the roses — and even if there are a few thorns, isn’t that what life is really about? Dealing with things. Learning things. I wouldn’t wish for another ICU visit EVER again… but the lessons learned are valuable and not to be taken lightly. Sit down. Take a break. Breathe.

So… the next time you see me trying to be SuperWoman, do me a favor and remind me to take a breather, would you? And thanks for sticking with me, readers. Y’all are the greatest.

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5 thoughts on “From High Expectations to ICU

  1. Loved the thorns and roses you threw in there. And don’t worry, next time I see you doing too much, I’ll make you sit down and share some of your wine with me 😀 I LOVE YOU!

  2. Megan, I’m so glad you’re still with us! I’m also glad you are learning to slow down now before you waste any more precious years trying to meet expectations when only God’s really matter. You are a wonderful writer! I hope to get to know you better this year!

  3. So grateful for your spirit [that God has put within you & that which He jealously yearns over-see James 4], and the example it sets for me & for many others. Next Sunday, you, me, and my friend Beth Ann + Church + Lunch. To say I’m excited doesn’t do it any justice whatsoever. Love you!

  4. I would be a turtle. At the lake where my family used to camp every summer (site of my favorite childhood memories), a channel connected two of the lakes in the chain, and this was a no-wake zone that forced us to slow down and enjoy putzing through the water, actually seeing what was around us. I always used to look for this huge, mossy log that was almost guaranteed to have about 6 turtles on it, some large and some tiny, like a little family. I loved how, all of a sudden, without even seeing them move, they would all of a sudden just PLOP! into the water. So graceless, if you think about it, so amusing, so happy to the child that was me.
    Another time, I was with friends tubing down a river on our day off in North Carolina. We had pulled to the side to sunbathe (much like turtles ourselves) and watch the current move past us. I remember seeing this turtle caught in the current, belly up, just floating leisurely past leaves, branches, and inner tubes. I can’t help but imagine him as happy.
    I think I do ascribe to the “traits you admire” theory. I always loved these turtles because I imagine them with an “Oh, well? What do you do? Might as well enjoy the ride. Do-di-do” attitude which I find extraordinarily difficult to adopt but always want to.
    But, hey, you know one thing that’s the same about hippos and turtles (at least from my zoo experiences?). They like the water. We’ll hang out together. 🙂

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