I had a post all written up and posted for yesterday. But it was long. And that was after I condensed it and took out material I really did want to talk about. That's when I realized it needed more than one post to cover it. So I'm working on branching it out into a mini-series. Some of you got to see the mega-post before I took it down to revamp it and expand it...so you got a sneak peek. For the rest of you, next week I'll share our philosophy on how to live a life you love.
Today instead I want to share something I learned in college. Something they never planned on teaching me. Something they probably don't know I even learned.
While working on my BA in English I wrote a paper about the instability of perfection. When I turned it in I was sure this paper was fabulous and as near perfection as any of my papers had ever been (a little ironic there, I know). I typed up the cover page, turned it in, and eagerly awaited the praises of the T.A. (because it was one of those mega classes where you never actually get feedback from the real teacher) and my A+. Just a week or two later I turned in my final exam, picked up my amazing paper, the culmination of my work in that class for the semester, and flipped excitedly to the back to find a big ol' B- written on it, next to the scribbled out B+. Up to that point I'd been a straight-A student and a B was the worst thing I could fathom happening in life. Bahaha, oh I wish that was my biggest worry now.
My heart was crushed. This class had taken everything of me. It was awful! I've never hated a class more through the whole semester (and this comes from the girl who has loved nearly every college class because she's a proud nerd). I'd put my whole heart into the paper, but it wasn't right.
Reading it now I can see things I could have done to improve it, but that's with more years under my belt. At that point, it truly was my best work. And it wasn't enough. And that lead me to believe I wasn't enough.
I cried. Hard. I'm still a little miffed about that class (I know...I seriously need to just let it go. But it was the worst class I've ever taken).
But I learned from that experience and that class. You can't find what I learned in the course description, or the syllabus. But it was significant nonetheless.
1. Life goes on.
I didn't get the grade I wanted or felt I deserved, but that didn't mean my life was over. Nor did it mean my degree was over. Trials happen in life, but they aren't the end of life. "This too shall pass." or as a sign said in another teacher's room, "This too shall pass, even if you don't." It was one paper. One class. It was not worth all the anger and tears and self doubt I attached to it.
2. Hard Things can bring about Good Things.
That class was a turning point in my degree. I was taking all literature classes at that point. And they were okay. I didn't like them for the most part, but I liked writing, so that's what I had to do to write (or so I thought). I was talking about that class and my feelings about writing about literature and my dislike for what I was doing in my degree to my advisor and they suggested a different game plan for the rest of my degree. Business and technical writing.
I figured it was worth a shot. I LOVED my next semester. I still had a few required lit classes to finish, but the rest were related to not-literature related writing. And it was fabulous! I found a renewed love for writing. I found classes where I could write about things I loved and was interested in and it was exhilarating. If I hadn't taken that awful class I may have never ended up seeking for something different. Sometimes we just need a little push, even if it's not pleasant, to find a direction in life that fits us better.
3. I was still enough.
Having your "prize work" shot down and unappreciated is utterly deflating. It's easy to take it personally. I doubted my ability to write all summer. I doubted my decision to follow that degree pursuit. I doubted that I had what it would take to meet my goals. I let that one class and that one paper fix my view of myself. I'd done well in my other classes and on the papers for those classes. But I began to tell myself that maybe they were just being nice. Maybe I didn't really earn those grades. Maybe I was fooling myself.
It took some time, but I began to realize that one supposed set back, one bad review, one less than stellar performance didn't have to determine the rest of my academic career. It could if I let it. But it didn't have to. I knew I wanted better than that. I knew I wanted to finish strong. I knew I wanted to finish. It really made me look at what I wanted out of school and my degree instead of just "I want to be a straight-A student."
Life isn't perfect, but we can't let that cripple us. We have to keep moving on. We are not perfect. There are days that kick us hard when we've offered up our best. Days that make us doubt our abilities, goals, and direction in life. Weeks that test every fiber of who we are. When those times hit remember this:
"Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead." (quote by Jeffrey R. Holland).
You are enough. You can do this. You can push through. Don't you quit!