I have a guilty pleasure.
I watch reality television. My favorite kind of show are design or cooking challenges. I am a Project Runway addictee and I’ve pretty much watched every season up to date. This past weekend I finished watching the finale for the past season and HULU suggested another show, Australia’s Top Model. I do admit to watching the last guys and girls season of America’s Top Model, and I was entertained by the drama and the fashion photography. That show falls into the same category as the cooking shows I watch. I am a horrible cook so watching good cooking is a bit of a fascination for me. There’s no stress because I know I will never aspire to be even a bit better than I am as I have no talent in this area. The model shows are much the same. I will never be 5’10, twig-like, flat-chested, or eighteen again, so it’s safe to witness another world I will never be a part of. I have realistic expectations.
Surprisingly, the Australian show was much more brutal with criticism then the American show. From watching a two season marathon (yes, I watched two seasons while drawing most the day), it seemed the judges made up the rules as they went along. Girls were judged by their runway walk, but once they got that down, they SHOULD have worked on their photos instead. And the judges picked out their final photos from a large pile they took of them usually choosing the best or the odd one of the bunch to their preference. Sometimes, criticism made perfect sense and we, the audience, learned a great deal about how to model, although, I have to say, I really don’t have that interest. Other times, criticism was random and odd. Particularly brainless was giving the girl criticism about the size of her butt who clearly showed signs of early eating disorder and was model thin.
All this model show watching had me thinking about clear expectations. I am realizing something rather important as a sensitive. I need clear expectations. What is often hard having my own business is that there is a part of me that thinks, I will do all this work and offer all this, and in return, I will be rewarded with what I need. The problem is often when that doesn’t happen and I am left with an uneven exchange.
Most sensitive folk are very responsible and we like to please. Whether that pleasing is for approval, and approval can mean acceptance, or it is simply to keep the peace because we hate conflict. In order to please we need the rules, and the rules, like in that tv show, aren’t always very clear. We want to know that if we do A/ then B/ we get a reward. Many situations we think we do A and B, we may even get chastised for not doing C and D, when we hadn’t even known there was a C and D, which is what often happens with unclear expectations or hard to please people.
In Grad School classes we were told about Rubrics. We had set expectations for each course we took describing what was expected of us. If we did a certain amount of work we received a grade. If we did things well or did more than expected, we received good grades. None of this was subjective, it was super clear. If I wanted that A, I had to do a certain amount of work and I was rewarded. WE NEED THAT!
I think we’ve all lived through situations growing up that we may have been expected to be more extroverted and do things like extroverted people do, and to be less sensitive or emotional. This is much like being asked to be eighteen again and model thin. Impossible expectations are just that…crazy and unrealistic. We will fail but not because of what we are attempting. Trying to please and fulfill those expectations might be even crazier. (It’s what I call the Treadmill). Maybe it’s time to walk away from situations that ask that of us and be pulled to the ones that have a very clear, upfront formula for success. And if isn’t clear, we can ask that it is.