“You can’t do that.” “You’re not capable of what is going to be asked of you in working towards that goal.” “You’re just not good enough to be at that level.”
I used to hear these all the time from my parents when I was growing up. I was constantly and consistently told that I didn’t have what it took to succeed at various tasks or reach specific goals. The bad thing about constantly hearing that, is that eventually it became the default setting towards trying to succeed at anything on my own. It took a long time before I started to realize what they were trying to do. They were not out to destroy my self-confidence, but try to place me into less intensive moments where I could have an easier time of succeeding. Still, looking back into my childhood, I do wish my parents were a little more open to letting me try and failing – and then encouraging me to get better at certain things before I tried again (and encouraging me to try again). I still carry the scars and programming from this with me to this day. Though I’ve been somewhat successful in de-programming myself to the default of not trying because, as Pink Floyd points out in the song “Fearless”, ” You say the hill’s too steep to climb.” (Pink Floyd, ‘Fearless” from the album Meddle.)
I spent seven years on my Bardic Grade in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Now, I find myself at the halfway point of the same time-frame within my Ovate Grade. Life gets in the way, sometimes I get stuck on a particular point, I sometimes forget that there is the message board available to me for assistance and moral support. Plus, there’s always my mentor that I can turn to, along with numerous other members that I know that are also on their Ovate Grade studies, Druid grade members, and those who have finished all three courses that I can lean to for assistance. There’s lots of sources for assistance, so why do I let myself wind up in bogged down places? Because I am stubborn. Very much so.
Its not that I cannot comprehend difficult conceptual information. I proved that back when I was in high school and took the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT), scoring among the highest grades in my class. I also posted the seventy-fourth lowest grade point average among my senior class, a graduating class of seventy-five. My GPA came about because of boredom and disinterest. If I was interested in the course I was taking, my grade point average was high (History, and Basic Computer Systems). If I was uninterested, my grades reflected that, Theology (Catholic), Mathematics (any), and English (except personal writing assignments). As a point of comparison, I showed up to my ACT test hung-over from a heavy night of partying on that Friday night (the test was Saturday morning, 7am sharp). My younger sister, who had a stellar GPA at her high school (I went to all-boys Catholic school, she went to the all-girls sister Catholic high school across town), studied almost nightly for the ACT for three months’ prior to the test. My scores were far above her’s, leading to a declaration that “its just not fair!”
The reality was that my parents’ did not expect much of me at that point. Thus, there was no pressure on my to perform well on the exam. No pressure meant that I could just show up, read the instructions, take the test, and be done with it. Whatever I scored, is what I scored. I suspect, my approach to my Bardic and Ovate studies has been much the same. I show up, I do what I can in the studies, and whatever the outcome winds up being is the outcome. Except…I get stuck on concepts and topics. As I noted above, Theology has never been an interest of mine; though my teacher in my Junior and Senior years was a fascinating man. Mr. K. L. (I do not have permission to use his name…mostly because I did not approach him about it when writing this) had a way of using everyday life to teach topics, which made the class somewhat interesting and ket very dry topics just a touch more “juicy” then they would have been. Its that teaching style that I carried into the classroom when I taught during my first three years working in the college.
So, let’s circle back around to the start of this little discussion, what my parents’ used to say to me about succeeding in various things. A lot of what was said to me came from my mother’s dislike of my personal appearance. I’m not the snazziest dresser in the world. Honestly, popular fashion can kiss my ass. I dress to be comfortable. It just so happens I am more comfortable in concert t-shirts and a pair of jeans. I prefer my balding hair to be long, not because I am hiding my fading hairline (which I’m not – male pattern baldness sucks) but because I am most comfortable with my hair in such a way. My mother’s desire was for me to become a doctor or a lawyer, not because of what those jobs do, but rather because of what those jobs PAY. Again, another clash of thoughts between us, because I look at money as a means to have a place to live, clothes on my back, and food on the table. Whatever is left over can pay for the “extra” stuff in life – IF there is money leftover. My job isn’t about trying to achieve the “extra” stuff, its about being of service to others. I work in a college, and my job deals with metrics and looking at trends in terms of things like enrollment, grading, etc etc. If something looks “off” in the trends, I report it to my supervisors. The hope is that it can become an actionable item to help students achieve success, in whatever means that provides. My salary is meager, at best, but I never took this job for the salary. I took this job to be of service to the students enrolled in this college. As you can see, when my mother was alive and cognizant (before her dementia robbed her of so many memories), we were constantly butting heads.
So, as I falter in the completion of my Ovate Gwers and begin to see the same pattern of working through my Bardic Grade starting to arise, I have to remind myself about my de-programming, my personal stubbornness to fight constantly with a problem until I resolve it; as well as my inherent laziness that pops up from time to time. There are so many factors that play into my lack of speed working through this material, as well as working through other aspects of life. Being so critical hard on myself for not moving at better speeds only makes things a little worse. Sometimes, I just gotta give myself a little bit of a break over this so-called “failures” and remind myself that these are not “failures”. That sometimes, when traveling down the Path, you gotta stop at one of the benches along the way, sit down, and take a breather. And I am good enough to do this; whatever it may be. I amy fail a few times, but I can always try again.