For some odd reason or another, I have been feeling a bit spacey. Thoughts racing. Not quite able to pull myself together. Just all over the place. Sitting down to write, in this moment, took an energy I’ve had to muster over the last 5 days. I’m. Disappointed. In self. In others. In things. In situations. So, I figured I’d gather ego, and just write… Throw some junk at the wall, and see what sticks.
I have known it is my life’s mission, to be a writer, since the age of 6. I can recall sitting on the edge of a ditch, outside my Aunt’s house, and just mulling over life, with a cousin of mine. I remember saying out loud, “One day, when I’m grown, I’m going to get married, have 2 kids, and write a book.” Simple. No fears or worries about how, or exactly when. Only pure unadulterated confidence of self, and my abilities. I miss her… That tiny little human me, who had already experienced far more trauma than she knew how to handle, but could still find hope in her world. The self-aware me, who knew of the power of words, long before I could truly string them together in the perfect sentence structure. She had so much wisdom. She. Her. Me. I believe I channel her when I write. She gives me hope to sustain me through my current days.
I’m disappointed in myself, because I find me, not giving me, the same chances I give everyone else. I want to see the good in this world of chaos. I want to believe everyone has a beautiful soul underneath all the anger, fear, and hurt. I want to show people how it feels to be.. liked. loved. admired. wanted… Even if I haven’t always felt that personally. I want people to know, that we can fail at times, but, it doesn’t need to be a reason to give up.
Giving up has been a theme of mine, many times over the years. I was able to talk myself out of almost anything. As a child, I was a bit of a perfectionist. Okay, more than a bit. Everything I did had to be the best, or it was unacceptable. I realize now, that, this mindset, stemmed from the need to people please. My teachers. My mother. Any adult who played a large role in my world. The smiles I received. The encouragement. The attention. All of it shaped how I walked through my reality. I wasn’t told I had to be this way, but the energy I received, fed into my longing for acceptance.
One particular scenario, is cemented into my psyche, and is the very moment my life changed, and one of the first times I remember giving up.
From Kindergarten through Junior High, (7th grade), I was a straight A student. My favorite subject was Spelling. If I knew nothing else, I knew words. Being the only child at home, I regularly read THE dictionary, and encyclopedias. We had this really thick dictionary, with colored pictures. I was always so fascinated by the cool, smooth, crisp pages. It was nothing for me to study that book for hours at a time. Learning new words and definitions, was what gave me life. Encyclopedias added to the joy, by giving me a brief history of things I could only imagine… Acing a Spelling test was like breathing. I also enjoyed English, but not as much, in later years. However, math wasn’t something I looked forward to. If I could have done anything else, I would have. This dislike didn’t stop me from getting A’s, but I could certainly sense that I would eventually run into numbers, that would give me a run for my money.
Fast forward to 8th grade. I’m still an A student, for the most part. I receive a high B, on occasion… Then enters, ALGEBRA. I hate it so much, even to this day. I even had to look up the spelling. Anyway, from the first moment we were introduced, I have been confused. In my brain, like lives with like. Therefore, numbers and letters SHOULD NOT MIX. I was once told, when I was young, that I have a very analytical mind. Of course, I had to check out that definition, and I rather liked it. So, my analytical mind just couldn’t comprehend how X, truly = 7. Regardless, I excelled through my Pre-Algebra lessons. During this time, my teachers were taking note of my grades, and decided that, when I moved to high school, I should be placed in Honors Algebra. Honors English? Sure. Honors Algebra? Absolutely not! I begged and pleaded my case, to no avail.
So began my spiral of failure. Back then, and in that particular school, we had all of these placement tests, and whatever else they called it. All of which, resulted in a final exam to determine one thing or another. I studied the best I could, and ended up getting a C on my math test. I was crushed. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I had NEVER seen a C before. It literally shook me to the core. As I look back, I realize, I just couldn’t regroup. It was all downhill from there. I gave up. The academic world came crashing down around me. I was hurt. Embarrassed. Sad. and disgusted. I had never been told that it was okay to fail. That failure is a part of life…
Now, I can imagine you may be thinking, “Really girl? It’s JUST a C. Not the end of the world.” True, maybe for you. But, my world revolved around getting the best grades. And a C, just would not do. I tried as I might, but I just couldn’t move beyond that letter. Because I didn’t understand the material, and wasn’t allowed the luxury of a tutor, I continued to struggle, and eventually received and F. I was finally placed in a Pre-Algebra class, where I floundered. I finally did just enough to be placed in Algebra I, where I stayed my entire high school journey. I felt like a major failure.
As an adult, I found myself recalling that feeling of failure, and not allowing space to learn from it. This disconnect, forged a sense of shame, which surreptitiously, resulted in my putting up walls, to shield myself from some preconceived notion of criticism. As much as it pains me, I mislike admitting that I allow these feelings to creep in every so often. Through the years, I would get excited about a new venture, an idea, and share my joy with those around me. Only to find, I’d given up after a concerted effort, or realizing a thing wasn’t how I thought it would be. The more this happened, the more I would retreat back into my shell.
Which brings me to writing. And what it means to be successful at it, or an epic failure. I sort of promised myself that I would write for this blog, every Friday. No. Matter. What. Unfortunately, last Friday proved to be a bit of a beast, and I wasn’t able to sit down and pour into it, as planned. I became SO unbelievably disappointed in my ability to commit. I criticized me. I seethed. I grumbled. Then, something happened. I shook it off. I only made that promise to myself, though I may have mentioned it to a few close family/friends. And even though I should be able to believe in my own words, more than anyone else’s, the promise still stands. However, I must be willing to adjust as needed. I have established how easy it is for me to encourage others. No matter what the challenge, I will find something beautiful in a sea of ugliness. For me personally, not so much. I am sometimes held to a standard, that is unrealistic, and invariably unattainable. Why has mercy been so elusive in selfhood? Instead of retreating, I shall practice conscious engagement. Perhaps, permitting myself to lay my soul bare, is the path that leads me to allow myself to successfully fail.