Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On not being the best....

At some point in every life, there is a moment of inferiority. Whether it's real or not is beside the point. Every person, at one time or another (or multiple times for some), will feel inferior to someone or something.

I struggle with my own inferiority complex on a fairly regular basis. We're talking nearly daily. I'm not as thin as that person, not as athletic as another, not as smart at this person, not as successful as that one, not as valued (professionally) as that person, not as talented as the next one.

And in fairness, I'm thinner, smarter, and more successful than someone else out there in the world. So what's the point of feeling inferior?

Sometimes, I think it's okay, even healthy, to have an inferiority complex. It gives me something to push toward, another goal to achieve. It certainly has pushed me to do some things with my life that I probably wouldn't have done otherwise. I also think that we all need to feel inferior at some point in order to maintain a sense of humility.

From time to time, it's okay to get a simple reminder that I'm not as amazing as I might think I am. Don't get me wrong. I think it's fine to be proud of one's accomplishments. It's more than okay to toot your own horn every now and again. We all need to feel like we're great at SOMETHING. In fact, I firmly believe that all of us are really great at at least one thing. In our own circle of friends and peers, there's probably at least one thing that we really, truly are better at than anyone else.

From personal experience, I can assure you that failure is not the worst thing that will ever happen. Feeling like a loser is not going to end your world. I failed an entire college course once. It was a horribly sinking feeling...mostly because I knew I'd have to take the class again and paying for it (again) was going to be no easy task (this was before I started taking out loans en masse and was paying out of pocket). I don't like to lose and I don't like to fail. But learning that I can bounce back from a pretty spectacular tumble was one of the more important lessons I've ever learned. I sulked and licked my educational wounds for a while. I felt stunned when I saw that failing grade on my transcript. I never really told anyone about failing that class.

Failure is embarrassing, there's no questioning that. Copping to it, admitting your own inferiority, is never easy. It is, however, necessary. I feel like, the sooner you fail, the sooner you can learn to deal with it, move on, and learn how not to fail the next time.

So here's my way of encouraging you to cop to your failures, however hard it may be. And as another tiny bit of encouragement, remember that while there will always be someone out there who is better than me at something, anything, I likely guaranteed to be better at something, anything, than someone else...same goes for you.

Friday, August 6, 2010

On coming to terms with fear....

I have yet to meet someone who doesn't have a fear of at least one thing. Most people seem to have fear of heights or spiders or snakes or something like that. My list of fears is pretty strange, to say the least. I'm afraid of wet paper, depths, and mushrooms.

Wet paper makes my gag reflex kick in immediately and with a vengeance.
Depths stems from an incident in South Carolina when I was 15. I haven't felt the same about the ocean since. Watching Finding Nemo even makes me have minor anxiety attacks.
Mushrooms, well, they're just weird and gross. Why would someone eat a fungus? I don't get it.

But the other night, a new fear was introduced to me. The fear of completion.

I have a few friends who are writers, two of whom (one being my husband) who are actually, legitimately published. Todd has a contract with a small publishing house in Colorado and Ben recently won a pretty BFD award for Writer's Digest. Both have been pursuing writing for a looooooong time and I know absolutely for certain that Todd would like his writing career to be his ONLY career.

So when he completed his first novel, he immediately began sending the manuscript to agents, publishers, anyone who might want to take a look at it. Because if you're going to work that hard to complete a novel, the intention (probably) is to get it out into the world.

Ben brought up this whole fear of completion as it relates to writers. He suggested that a lot of writers simply don't finish a piece because once they've completed it, one of two things generally happens:
1. There's nothing left to work on; and/or
2. They have to DO something with the piece.

I don't understand #1, just because there's always something else that I want to write (granted, I write more article-style and not novels, though my husband is trying to pursuade me to write one). The second fear, however, I kind of get.

See, in my dream world, I'm a contributor to Vanity Fair. I love reading that magazine, I respect the talent of many of the writers (even if I don't always agree with their POV), and I want to be part of something bigger than me, professionally. I figure, the only way that I'll ever get to be a contributor is to actually submit a piece for review. I always seem to say, "Someday, I'll be brave enough to submit to Vanity Fair. Someday." Why not today?

I don't know what my senior writing project will entail, if it's a solo or group project, if it's supposed to be a singular piece or a compilation. No idea. But I think I'd like to create something that's worth submission to some credible magazines. But I do worry about the day that I actually complete a piece like that. I worry about holding the paper or staring at my computer, all the while thinking, "Oh crap. It's finished. Now I have to DO something with it." I worry that I'll pore over and over and edit the hell out it and basically torture the piece; edit it into submission, if you will. I worry that, even though I know it will be rejected, I'll consider that rejection the Simon Cowell of my writing career, however brief and fledgling it may be. I worry that I'll give up before I give myself another shot. I worry that I'll find it easier to sit on the piece, never submit it to anyone, and carry on with my meager existence, just so that I don't have to feel the sting of rejection.

It was suggested that I also mention the fear of success in concert with the fear of completion. I just don't really have a fear of success. I desperately want to taste success in my life. I want to be a successful career person, I want to succeed in the kitchen, I want my marriage and family to be wildly successful. Fear of success? Not me.

But I need to get over the fear of completion in order to even get a chance at success.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

On being beaten up....

Ever have those days when you feel like you've been hit by a MacTruck? I'm sure most of us can think of a day when we'd had too much to drink or stayed out too late the night before. Going to work and sitting behind a computer for 8+ hours seems like pure torture.

I went to an indoor trampoline center the other week for a friend's birthday. I have an unconditional love of trampolines. I grew up with one (okay, my neighbor had one, but we were always over there jumping) and can't wait to get one of my own in the backyard. But at 30 years old, I'm not sure my body was well-equipped to deal with the aftermath of two solid hours of jumping, flipping, and general madness. I felt like I'd had the crap beat out of me and I felt like that for nigh on a week. Will that stop me from trampolining again? Absolutely not.

But what about when you take an emotional or psychological beating?

Normally, when I feel like that physically, I just go to bed early, take some pain meds, and drink a couple glasses of wine. If I'm feeling especially crummy, I'll throw in a salt bath for good measure.

Sadly, there are no salt baths for the emotional beatings, are there?

It's frustrating to feel taken for granted or (probably worse) totally disregarded. The last several weeks have brought a number of those situations my way. School was strange, twice not having anyone in my peer review group choose my work to review. I mean, I'm nearly fundamentally opposed to peer review groups as it is because I'm totally unsure of their purpose, but since it's an assigned task, I deal with it.

I've had my opinions, beliefs, politics, and reasons come under heavy fire this summer for reasons that I don't understand. At one point, I really just threw my hands up and said, "I'm going to be a Communist for Halloween; they practically think I am anyway!" I had someone question why I keep fighting for the "same old thing." Why do any of us fight for something we believe in? There are hills I'm willing to die on, and that particular topic happens to be one of them. But I won't get into it right now.

Some really insulting statements have been hurled at me with no regard for how the hell it might sound, much less how it might hit me.

This isn't a cry for sympathy. Not even in the slightest. I don't need anyone to feel sorry for me.
It's more about trying to find a way to be less affected by the stupid things people say and do.
There are times when I know know KNOW that what was said wasn't intended to be hurtful; it just came out wrong or I was in a vulnerable place and I took it wrong. Lord knows, I've been on the giving end of those statements.
But other times, it's painfully evident when a statement was made with intention. And those are the ones that I can't wrap my head around. Those are the ones that I can't seem to reconcile or "get over."

So what does one do with THOSE MacTrucks? Certainly wine can help, but that wears off far sooner than the shock.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On getting from there to here....

My educational pursuits have been many. I just completed a pseudo-documentary on my college experience for one of my classes so it's something that's been on my mind for a while. And, not long ago, my husband posted his own blog about his life as a student. He dared the rest of us to bare it all as well.

I went to the same school from the time I was 4 years old until I graduated high school at age 18. I remember almost all of my teacher's names (there is one I wish I could forget because she was so horrible, but alas). I was wildly involved with my school for as long as I can think. I was one of only two junior cheerleaders the school ever really had and I was hooked from then on.
I started cheering for those Crusaders when I was 7 years old and kept on going right through grade 11. I was a decent student, but probably could have applied myself better, especially in high school. In grade 4, in the horrible teacher's class, I was seated in the very back of the classroom and had a terribly difficult time doing math problems. My teacher told my mother I was probably developmentally behind the rest of the students and I was promptly sent to Ms. Prichard, the school's remedial teacher.
She was amazing. "Yes, your daughter has trouble with math," she told my mom. "But she's not stupid. She just can't SEE the blackboard!" So I got glasses and, on recommendation of Ms. Prichard, I wound up in piano lessons with Mrs. Moore. Apparently being able to read music while playing the keys was going to help my math skills (teaching me to multi-task, essentially). I fell more and more in love with music and continued to harbor a hatred for my grade 4 teacher and math.
Junior high was an horrific existence, as I believe it is for about 90% of humanity. Mean girls, Queen Bees, bitches, and all that. It was stupendous. I made the cheerleading squad the summer before grade 7 and didn't look back. I showed those horrible girls who never thought I'd make it...and I have Danielle, Casi, and Jodi to thank for that.

This is when music really started to take hold of me. I went to school and tolerated the studying so that I could cheer and sing. Some of the best memories of my childhood involve music. I refer back to Jodi, whom I practically idolized as a kid. She was practically perfect in every way. She sang, she cheered, everyone loved her, she was smart as hell. I still want to be her. The first time I heard her sing, I knew I wanted to be a part of that. So I fought tooth and nail to make into the show choir by grade 9...not something that was terribly common back then. And damn if I didn't make that choir for grade 9 and every year thereafter.

High school itself is a bit of a blur. I excelled in history, languages, and English. I barely made it through any of the left-brained classes. Honestly, it was torture for me, some of the classes. I can fully admit now that I cheated my way through one of my classes (which will remain unnamed) and I don't really feel bad about it. The teacher didn't give a lot of us a fighting chance.

But I made it through high school and made my way (very unwillingly) to Strathmore, Alberta, Canada where I spent a year in a discipleship program (read: Bible school). I met some really great people and amazing friends and learned a lot about myself, but not much about what I wanted to do with my professional life.

So after a summer in Mahtowa, Minnesota, I went to a small (Bible) college in Bemidji, Minnesota. Probably my worst imaginable decision to date. I hated nearly everything about being there. I hated school. I hated how mean some of the people were. The one really great thing about that year is that I met my best friend a few weeks after school started. She was and continues to be a constant source of support and reality checks.

But I couldn't fathom going back to that school. It's the place where I first learned what crying and heartache really looked and felt like.

So I came home to Colorado.

And took a LOT of time off.

Then I decided to (sort of) declare a major in Music Production and started my core requirements at Red Rocks Community College. I did several semesters at RRCC and at some point changed my major to Social Work.
Then I quit. Mostly, just gave up. I wasn't finding myself, I was involved in some crappy things, and generally had no direction.

So I got some random office jobs here and there. During one of those jobs, I met the girl I refer to as my "Colorado best friend" and she told me, in no uncertain terms, to "get off [my] ass and do something with [my] life." So I enrolled in a "real" college: Metropolitan State College of Denver, as a Sociology major. I worked really hard at that school and somewhere in the meantime managed to get my bridal consulting license. I changed majors AGAIN, this time to Hospitality and Event Planning (yes, it's a real degree and it's incredibly hard). I did that for a few semesters before taking on a course that was so far outside my skill set, I actually cried in my professor's office.
So I changed majors again, this time to English with a Spanish minor.

I did several semesters at MSCD as an English major and absolutely loved my Spanish classes. But one class in particular, Intro to Journalism, turned me off to the school for reasons that are inexplicable to me.

I just wasn't being challenged at that school. It's not a bad school, certainly don't take that away from my experience. I has some of the best programs out there. But their English program just wasn't my style or speed.

So I changed schools yet again and dropped the minor.

My major changed slightly from Metro to University of Colorado - Denver, but not much. I went from English to English Writing. I love editing with every fiber of my being and while I don't really care for some styles of writing, I figure I should know how to write before I tell someone else how to.

For the last two years, I've been at UCD, loving every very challenging second of it. My GPA is the highest it's ever been, even while taking a full-time student course load and working a9-to-5. I've even declared a minor again....Sociology (a previous major, if you're able to keep up with all of this madness). I'd taken a ton of sociology courses previously so my current adviser recommended that I take the one remaining course I needed and officially declare it as a minor. "Might as well get the paper since you've done all the work!" he told me.

And here I am, four short months from a graduation that's taken me 11 years, 5 colleges, and 5 majors (let's not talk about the money right now) to accomplish.

I've been in school for so long that I often do one of two things: 1. wonder what I'm going to do with all my free time; or 2. flirt with the idea of getting my master's/teaching certificate because I can't imagine my life without school and stress.

I think I'll just get a massage instead.

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