I do not give myself enough credit. Ever. I don’t tell myself good job. I don’t admit my strengths. I certainly don’t give myself any pats on the back. Most days, I don’t believe that I deserve them. I wish that I could force it, that I could teach myself to be more confident. That I could know that I’m making the right decisions. I am constantly weighing all of the pieces, considering everything, and thinking of everyone but myself.
I put myself last. I don’t know how to not do that. I am always punishing myself for losing, and I’m so consumed with that that I don’t know how to let myself win. I don’t always know how to accept the good things.
Today I had a conversation with someone I greatly respect. I admitted to her that I was afraid of grad school. Moreover, I’m afraid of not getting in; I’m afraid I’m not good enough. I’m afraid that I’m not strong enough to handle that sort of rejection, and I’m afraid that I will let myself get so scared that I’ll quit. I’ll give up.
She argued with me. I knew she would; that was part of the reason I asked her to chat. I needed to hear somebody say it:
“You’re so strong. And you can handle it.”
“I’m not strong. I break.”
“But you don’t. You don’t break. You’re still here.”
I am reminded of a time, almost six months ago, when I sat in this very office in this exact same chair and uttered the exact same words: “I’m scared.”
“Of what?” she asked then.
“Everything. Life. What happened. What happens now. I think I’m broken.” I tried not to cry.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay. It isn’t your fault.” My gaze drifted out the office window and I thought for a moment before continuing. “I know that it’s important to tell my story, but…what if people don’t believe me?”
She thought about that for a moment and took a few bites of her lunch. “I believe you. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t. You’re so amazing, and strong. And I know that it’s hard and it completely sucks. But you can get through it. You’re strong, and you’ll be okay. Maybe it doesn’t feel like it now, but it’s true. You’re going to be fine.”
I didn’t know how to be fine. I didn’t know how to come back, how to be whole. I didn’t know how to fix what was broken. I didn’t know how to fix me. “I feel like I should quit.” I figured that was what people did when things got too hard.
“One day at a time, one step at a time. And you keep moving forward. You aren’t a quitter.”
I met her eyes. It took an amazing amount of effort, but I didn’t break from her gaze. “I don’t know how to do this.”
“But, you already are.”
I thought I was broken that day. Abnormal, lost. But I wasn’t. I survived. I survived something. An event, or really, series of them. And I’m still standing on the other side of it all. How, I don’t know. But here I am, not broken when I so obviously should be. When many other people would be long gone. But there’s this little thing nagging at me now, this issue of grad school. It scares the crud out of me. Why? Because it’s unknown. I don’t know if I will get in, and I don’t know what will happen if I do. I don’t know where I will go. I don’t know where I will live. I don’t know if I’ll be okay on my own. At least, these are the things I tell myself. But the truth is, I’ve fought a lot of life on my own. This is just one more thing, as scary as it is. Fear of failure or not, I shouldn’t quit. I’m not a quitter, and I never was.
The fact of the matter is, I have absolutely no idea how to rebuild my life after everything. And it’s a new adventure every day. It’s fun at times, scary at times, and just plain crazy at times. I may not know what to do now, but it’s my life. My choices. My decisions.
I put myself last. But I shouldn’t.
My writing is good. I hesitate to call it very good. My grade point average is excellent. I’ve taken my fair share of courses and done well in all but one of them. I have publications under my belt. I’ve talked with a publisher regarding the process of getting my book out. I have teaching experience. I’ll be okay. I always am. I might even get in.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not as scared of what will happen if I don’t get in as I am scared of what will happen if I do.
What I have to keep telling myself is that, either way, it will be okay.