Welcome to Unsetting Expectations—a newsletter for high-performing, high-achieving, perfectionist workaholics grappling with issues of never feeling satisfied, always working crazy long hours, and not feeling proud of their accomplishments, written by Franka Grubisic.
If you're new here, join us every Thursday on a fortnight by hitting the button below:
Note: All of my writing is published unedited, & for a reason. I want you to experience my exact, raw thought process as this ensures that you get the most open, true & honest version of me at all times. I only have one rule when writing: the pen never stops touching the paper.
When you’re a fast learner, full of ideas, technologically skilled, the reality is that you set up, do and finish things really easily, and often, much more quickly (and better) than the others do.
What this does to me though, is make me feel that the thing that I did - like get a degree, launch a newsletter, build a product - isn’t important because it wasn’t hard for me. I didn’t invest a lot of effort into it, so it can’t be something of value, right?
Wrong! But, it’s so hard to get out of this mindset. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking: “wow, the words are really coming to me”, and I know it will take me no more 5 to 10 minutes to finish this issue. So naturally, I want to keep adding to it, wasting time contemplating about it because it surely cannot be _that easy_.
The hardest thing for me to make peace with in my life is certainly my intelligence - and I see this in many of my friends too. I wished for so many times that I was just… stupider. Living would be easier that way.
How awful, and simply and utterly untrue, are these expectations that I’ve put upon myself? That…
It’s not enough to be succesful or achieve something if I hadn’t literally killed myself for it.
No wonder I feel fully dissociated with all of my accomplishments in life - I deem them not worthy, because I am still alive. I didn’t kill myself (yet).
I remember the moment my therapist told me that, for homework, I need to write a list of 10 things I’m most proud of. She said: “it could be anything, from a small thing like helping a friend, to graduating from University”. I laughed and told her: “I can already see that we’ll have a problem here, as I wouldn’t ever think of graduation as something to be proud of”! She looked at me with a very, very grim look 🙂
I believe this comes from societal norms and constructs, and the beliefs we’re fed since a very young age, such as: “Success doesn’t come easy” and “Money doesn’t grow on trees” on one hand, and attaching huge amounts of value and status to employment and education. This way, when success does come easy for us, and when we don’t need to invest absurd amounts of effort into studying to pass an exam and get a degree, we feel like frauds, because we’ve been constantly told that it’s not supposed to be that way.
Unfortunately, I still don’t have the answer or the roadmap on how to handle this. One of the things that I started doing is reframing my thinking around this by telling myself how proud I am for doing XYZ - something I’d never done. At the moment, it feels like I’m lying to myself, but I know it’s a crucial thing to do if I ought to change how I feel.
Have you ever felt the same? Do you have any advice?
If this issue has inspired you to explore your under pins of self-worth in some way, do let me know by replying to this email or:
And if you're keen to hear more about losing friends whilst you’re advancing throughout life, keep your eyes peeled for the next issue. Don’t forget to sign up to join the journey if you haven’t already by hitting the button below ⤵️
Lastly, if you are willing, you can support me in the writings of this newsletter by buying me a doughnut 🍩. Why a doughnut, you may ask? Well, in my native language, 'doughnut' is spelled: 'krafna', which makes it an anagram of my name; Franka. And if there was such a thing as a power animal, but for food, I'd be a doughnut.
Until then, take good care and have a lovely week 💛