Well, this certainly complicates things. Be safe and stay warm out there ya’ll!
It has been a week! Busy days at work, after school activities, evening events, and a couple really late nights. Plus, this damn freezing weather and more snow.
I’m treating myself and my tired body to a little self-care, which includes a glass of wine an early(ish) bedtime.
Can someone please tell Electra to sleep in tomorrow?
I was leading a workshop tonight, and at one point the discussion turned to the fact that people can lose motivation and start to procrastinate because they fear success.
That’s the point where most of the students in the room look at me like I’ve lost my damn mind.
Fear of failure? Now that makes sense. Failing sucks. It feels icky. No one likes to miss the mark have have to own up to a mistake. But fear of success? Who the hell would be afraid of being successful? How does that even work?
Trust me, I’ve got this one. And it can honestly feel every bit as icky as failing. See, fearing success comes from those moments when you start strong. You’re feeling good, firing on all cylinders. But then you hit a point where you start wondering if maybe you set that bar a little high. You start to question whether the pace and expectations you’ve set for yourself just might not be sustainable.
It happened to me in college. I hit the ground running when I arrived at Concordia. First semester, 18 credit hours and a 4.0. Second semester, 17 credit hours and a 3.9. I was making new friends. I was accepted into the Honors Program. I got a job tutoring in the Writing Center. I got an essay published in a national magazine. Life was good…but somehow all the great things happening on the outside just didn’t quite match up with the way I felt about myself. I’d always struggled with self-esteem and not quite feeling like I belonged, and soon that Imposter Syndrome started to take over and I suddenly felt like I was trying to maintain my balance on a very wobbly pedestal.
So, I did what any rational person would do when faced with the shame of admitting that they’re not perfect–I started to self-sabotage, because somehow that seemed a helluva lot less difficult than having to let my guard down and let somebody see that I was just a scared kid who couldn’t for the life of me understand what anyone else saw in me. I started withdrawing from classes, watching my grades slowly dip. I made bad decisions. I even got an F in one of my major classes because I didn’t complete the coursework in time after the professor gave me an Incomplete.
It took me a long time (and a whole lot of therapy) to finally reconcile my expectations of myself, to finally begin to understand that I am smart and capable, that I deserve to take pride in my accomplishments because I worked really fucking hard to earn them. I still managed to graduate with Honors, go onto grad school, build a good life and a successful career.
And I am so grateful for every minute of it.
But still, there are days even now (especially now) when my Imposter Syndrome still whispers, persistently, making me question whether I really have what it takes, whether I really belong.
I guess we’re all just works in progress, aren’t we?
It happens to everyone at some point–life just gets to flying by and you’re so busy and bogged down and buried that you feel yourself getting lost in the middle of it. There was a time in my life when these situations may have overwhelmed me, stopped me in my tracks, knocked me flat on my ass. We’ve all had those moments haven’t we? When things just sort of spiral out of control? But what I’ve learned through the years is how to maintain balance, how to stand in that crazy, chaotic space and not let life knock me down.
What can I say? I’m stubborn.
But more than that, I think I’ve managed to develop a pretty decent perspective. And it has a little something to do with this…
“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new suit in a men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee like this.” -Special Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks
Maybe I’m a glass-half-full girl. Maybe my default these days tends to be on the positive, looking for opportunities in the challenges. It’s not that I ignore issues or never feel frustration–it’s that I don’t allow myself to get bogged down and wallow in it.
Trust me, I’ve been there. And life is way too short to stay in that negative space and be miserable.
Instead, I make a choice every day–a choice to do the best I can with the circumstances presented to me. I can’t control everything. (Not even close!) But I can control the way I react, and the way I choose to respond. And I’m going to make mistakes along the way. We all do. And I’m okay with that, because I’m going to own those mistakes and learn from them and use what I learn to do better.
It’s been a really busy few days (hell, it’s been a really busy few months, years, decade!), but even in those busiest times, I make a point to be present, to give myself that present, to find the little bits of beauty in every day. And this was one of those moments today, looking up to see some soft snow flurries beginning to swirl outside my window, and a large hawk perched serenely on the bare branch of a tree.
I paused for a moment to admire him, thinking what a gift it is to see the world from that bird’s eye view, having the opportunity to look around at that big picture and not get lost in the details. It was a long day, a busy day, a challenging day. No doubt. But from where I’m sitting and soaking it all in, it was a really good day too. Because every day is a good day, if you get out of your own way and allow it to be..
Sometimes I sit here at the end of the day struggling to find something to write.
See what happens when you procrastinate?
But here’s the thing. It was a long day, a good day. And I don’t think I need to make myself feel guilty for not sitting down and coming up with something witty and clever to share on my blog today. Here’s what I did instead…
I enjoyed my time at work (and didn’t have any idle downtime where I felt bored or unfulfilled). I made progress on a few projects. I spent some quality time with my kiddos, working on homework and reading books before bedtime. I cooked a delicious dinner (why thank you Blue Apron!). I exchanged messages and shared some fond memories with old friends. I watched a couple episodes of The Office for a few laughs after H-man went to bed. I snuggled with the dog. I looked up options for flights to New York if we can manage to swing a trip out East this summer. I had some great conversations. And I laughed, a lot.
It might not seem like much. I didn’t write the great American novel or solve world hunger or break any impressive world records. But the little things, the little moments, those all have a way of adding up to a pretty great day, a pretty great life.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings.