I have been reluctant to write this post, which I’m fairly certain means that I need to do it. So here goes. This is a little bit more intimate than usual for the blog, so if you just come for the food (which is totally okay with me — sometimes you just want some food!), feel free to sit this one out.
As you may have noticed, I took a break from the blog for a bit, because I wanted to concentrate on studying for my professional licensing exam. And study I did. Every day, for hours at a time, my world was condensed down to a coffee shop and a set of purple workbooks I grew to hate.
If it wasn’t a workbook, and it didn’t scream or bark, I didn’t pay it any attention.
Despite the months of effort, I did not pass my exam. Again.
This was pretty devastating, as you can imagine. All that time and effort. All the hours I missed playing with my kids and enjoying the summer, not eating right, not exercising — and all of it for naught. Just to find out, once again, that I was thisclose to passing, but once again fell short.
I’ve been rather down on myself as a result. Going back to school as a married woman with three kids was hard. Having a baby in the middle of that was harder still. But I did it. I managed to get through it and looked forward to having a somewhat simpler life.
Yet this exam is the last hurdle before I can do what I’ve trained to do for years and I just. could. not. get it. What is wrong with me? I thought. How am I such a failure?
I think y’all can see where my problem is. Somehow, I decided my worth as a person was directly related to what I achieved in the world. That my value as a human being was only important as far as what I did, what I was able to do, how impressive I was able to be. How ridiculous is that?
I know better. It took me a really long time to learn that lesson, but I know it. Still, I am an academic achiever from way back, and I have a strong sense of myself as “smart”.
Smart is a big part of my identity and who I have always been.
So when faced with a professional/academic disappointment, I turned on myself. I forgot to show myself compassion, and gentleness, and support. I forgot to treat myself the way I would treat a friend.
Now, I’m going to tell you a little story:
Lately I’ve been trying to clean up my language. I am generally an unapologetic potty mouth, but our paleo baby is squarelly into toddlerhood now. Even better, he’s at that wonderful stage where as often as not, he parrots whatever I say. Since I prefer not to get kicked out of mommy & me activities because of my little foul-mouthed sailor, I started substituting the phrase “Cussword!” for what I really mean to say. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is nearly as satisfying as the real thing. (And highly amused when the boy runs through the house yelling “Cussword! Cussword!”)
So I’ve said a few (okay, more than a few) cusswords about this entire situation. I’ve careened between frustration and rage, and gone from despair to fury and back again. I’ll probably feel this way for a while longer. And that’s okay: I accept that I will occasionally be down about disappointments like this.
But I am trying to remember to treat myself as if I matter. To remember that what I do does not define who I am. That I am more than the numbers on a scoresheet, and that I am worthy of respect, from others, and from myself, simply because I exist. That I need balance in my life, and health, and that sacrificing those things, no matter how worthy the goal, is not how I want to live.
It’s a work in progress. But isn’t it always?