As humans, I think it fairly normal to have great expectations of ourselves. We dedicate so much time to doing things. Only we are present for our every success. And so, only we can truly measure how well we have faired in an instant when compared to our personal best.
And it is so, unbelievably frustrating when we fail to achieve what we feel we ought to. And of course, our lovely friends and family will do what good people should and tell us that we did well; that it was fine and of course we did better than we thought.
But that doesn't change those niggling thoughts in the back of our minds. The terrible realisation that always arrives at 3am, when we have the "I'm such an idiot!" moment.
I have these moments on a regular basis. I expect a lot from myself, not because I necessarily think I am capable of more, but because what is the point in doing anything less than the best?
Of course, there is a lot of point. Experiences, mistakes and trials are what dictate who we become and how we get there. But the disappointment always clouds over this.
Last week, two big things happened. The first was a show, which went incredibly well. Except... I know that it was, by far, the worst solo performance that I have ever done. The whole way through, all I could think was how utterly rubbish it sounded.
I was quick to get over myself, what with the rest of the show being so utterly amazing. And the kindness of the people around me disguised my flaws well but I still couldn't help but be dissatisfied with my efforts.
On Sunday, I took my first ever guitar exam. I need a Grade 8 very soon, having never taken an exam before. And so, last week, I took my Grade 6.
And it was horrific. I made ridiculous mistakes in the pieces. I totally flunked one of the exercises. I got half of the aural questions wrong. And, let's just say, I 'improvised' the sight reading.
I did all but cry after the exam. I was so frustrated with myself for making mistakes that I was perfectly capable of not making.
Then I got a distinction...which means that it wasn't the utter catastrophe that I was entirely certain it was.
And so, last week acted as a very important reminder for me: there is nothing, I think, wrong with expecting perfection from yourself. That is what drives us to be as good as we are. But, really, not being our best does not have to mean that we are total failures. The great expectations that we have of ourselves are positive targets but noone is going to beat us or sanction us if we don't meet them. The only person who will truly be bothered is ourselves.
It turns out us humans are not so terrible after all.