A while ago my brother posted on his blog about expectations and potential, specifically his own. For those of you who aren’t going to follow the links he said basically that most of his life he’s been told that he has so much potential and only recently was he ever told that he had actually met that potential and that just by one person.
And it got me thinking, I’m a fairly smart girl, I grew up with most of the advantages that can be expected (no, my parents did not spend millions on my sweet 16. Heck , they didn’t even buy me a car, but I had one at my disposal and I went to college and … you know, the usual non-Hollywood advantages.) And here I am 15 years after graduating from high school still without a bachelor’s degree, I have a job that I like but doesn’t pay all that well, a small home in a crappy neighborhood (sorry, if you happen to live by me but, I’m just sayin’) my house is always a mess, my kids are occasionally really badly behaved, and I’m regularly told how amazing I am, what a great job I’ve done, that I do so much, that I’m impressive and fantastic and inspirational and all that rot.
Now, far be it from me to say that those who are calling me great are wrong, in fact I think they’re right on the money, but it seems weird to me that my brother who was raised in the same environment and has ended up in a similar situation, small house, low paying job, etc… (although he does have a bachelor’s, and eight kids) has not lived up to his potential and I have. Doesn’t that just seem weird?
And then we were talking to my sisters about it and they said the same thing, they’re regularly told how great they are and what a great job they’ve done with their lives. And they are great, and they have all done fantastic things (a heck of a lot better then me, but then I set the bar pretty low.) but why are they commended for that so regularly while our brother isn’t?
So we’re wondering, is it a male/female thing? Has my brother not met his amazing potential because he’s a guy and he’s not running a fortune 500 company and I have because I’m a girl and I work full time with a smile on my face? (Let’s face it, the smile is just because working gets me away from the kids anyway.) If I were running a fortune 500 company but I had no kids would I still be meeting my potential? And seriously, the man has 8 kids and he knows ALL of their names, how is that not meeting your potential?!? What do you people want anyway?
I’m not really one to rail on about the evil patriarchal society in which we live but I think the bar may be set a little lower for girls than it is for boys. I manage to get up in the morning, I even sometimes get dressed, I birthed and have manged not to kill any of my four children so anything I do above and beyond that it just exceeding expectations.
Chris, my brother, does not run a fortune 500 company but he does run 2 small businesses (at last count) he’s active in the community, having been the president of his rotary club, a member of the chamber of commerce and working with several other small business groups, he has 8 children all of whom know and like him, he grows an enormous garden every year, and then he gives a lo of it away to neighbors, to friends, to family, to whoever wants or needs it. In fact he’ll give anything he has to anyone who needs it. He once gave me a car. Yes, he GAVE me a CAR. He’ll house you, feed you, clothe you, give you a car, or a job, or you know, whatever you need, no questions asked, no strings attached. If that guy hasn’t met his potential no one has.