I’ve always viewed school as a necessity. Whether or not I liked it was never a factor, it was just something I knew I had to grit my teeth and do. Naturally inquisitive, the desire to learn and acquire knowledge has never been an issue for me. No, my problem is that I have trouble acclimating to structured learning settings. I remember being two semesters shy of earning my bachelor’s degree when I decided to mentally check out. Between being burnt out and having senioritis, I gave myself permission to stop caring. As a result, I stopped turning in assignments, showing up to class, and lost interest in my grades. Soon after, I was threatened with being placed on academic probation: they gave me one more chance to get my crap together.
I recall meeting with my academic advisor:
Her office was a neat little nook tucked away at the edge of the building. It was dark, save for a small lamp on her desk that dimmed the area just enough for me to see the knickknacks and stacks of papers that comfortably cluttered her desk. Despite being afraid of the reprimand I was about to receive, her office seemed to exude warmth. Almost like a refuge: Somewhere you go for safety and refueling, but only for a short while.
She asked me what was going on and why my grades had fallen. I of course, tried to make my lousy excuse sound as justifiable as possible. She listened quietly as she busied herself with paperwork. When I’d run out of words to fuel my explanation, she turned to me, sighed and said matter of factly, “Okay. You’ve checked out.”
It was like she was a doctor diagnosing me with a common cold. She knew exactly where I was mentally and she understood how I had gotten there. She gave me no sympathy but there wasn’t a strong sense of reprimand either.
Her final words to me during that meeting were, “You need to find a way to check back in.”
I left the campus feeling much more fueled than I did going into the meeting. Our discussion had given me just enough charge to find my way back to my why.
Two semesters later, I graduated.
I find myself at a similar impasse. I checked out about a month ago. I knowingly and intentionally submerged myself into the mindset of a defeatist. I was beginning to feel like everything in life was just too hard, so I figured I’m done trying. I knew that it was a momentary phase, but I didn’t put up much of a fight against it. I became more frivolous with money than usual and I didn’t beat myself up about it. My spiritual upkeep was slacking. I missed almost two weeks of talking to you guys. Deep down, I knew better, but on the surface, I refused to allow myself to care. I just wanted to be. I wanted to do whatever I felt like doing without feeling bad or rehashing fifty times over, every move I made and every thought that even considered crossing my mind. Just for a second, I wanted to be completely human and not feel bad about it.
Things are still a bit hazy but I’m on the back end of that phase. I think my final salute was my purchase at Victoria’s Secret today at the Las Vegas airport. And in my defense, their semi-annual sale is going on so it could be argued that it was a logical and reasonable purchase.
That liberation I was looking for is returning to its former glory of frustration. I’m back to beating myself up. I’ve made the same mistakes so many times I’m dizzy. I want new mistakes! I want to be able to reflect and say, I used to be that way, but it feels impossible. Like it’s some sort of cruel joke to even think we can actually overcome our problems or become better.
In this time of reflection, I’m trying to figure out my why, because I really don’t want to go down this dead end road a millionth time.
I remember exactly when the downward spiral began. It was the first time I’d missed a post since recommitting myself to the blog back in February. It was a big deal to me and in my mind, it proved that I could not be committed or driven enough to accomplish anything. It shouted and reverberated throughout my entire being that no matter my efforts, I will always circle right back around to who I’ve always been. And that’s when I said
Forget it then, I’ll just stop trying.
One mistake sucked me into a black hole of psychological abuse toward myself. It should not have been that catastrophic, but because it was, that tells me that there’s more. I don’t think I actually believe I can be different. I didn’t realize that truth until just now. Looking at the words staring back at me on the screen, I can’t deny it. Whenever I’m doing well: praying, reading my Bible, keeping up with my blog, making smart money choices, I am proving to myself that I can change. And it feels good. until I mess up. Then it feels really bad.
I think maybe my mistake is that I don’t ask for God’s help often enough. For a long time, I went through this battle of understanding that I don’t have to prove myself to God. I could never make myself worthy of Him through deeds. Instead, it’s grace through His sacrifice that I fall on time and time again. I know that with absolute certainty and I live my life through that belief. But now I find myself trying to prove me to myself. As if life isn’t complicated enough. I only ask God to bless the outcomes of my goals, not the entire process. Like with my blog, I ask:
Dear God, I want to be dedicated to my blog, please help me.
There are smaller steps I need to be praying to God about concerning my dedication to the blog. For instance, if I know I have a busy week coming up and I’m not sure how I’m going to have time for the blog, I could pray and ask God to help me create time, give me the words to write and let them come effortlessly. That way, I’m being specific and I’m showing a constant need for God to help me in my endeavor. As opposed to praying for this colossal idea one time and expecting no hiccups.
Life is life and there will always be mistakes. But doing the wrong thing or making a mistake provides us with an opportunity to improve.
Reevaluate then Recalibrate.
Assess then Address.
I’m pretty much back on track, but I know I’ll eventually make another mistake. But the next time, I’m looking forward to it being an opportunity to improve and recalculate, not a self-bashing session.
I saw this commercial a few weeks ago and it stuck out to me. It’s a perfect ending to this piece.