Archive for June, 2008

Confidence

Last week, I handed in a paper on feminist interpretations of Genesis 1-3. I was nervous because this is my first class at a new school, and every university is a little bit different, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, and there was a nagging doubt in the back of my mind telling me that maybe I am just not smart enough to keep up with my classmates. Add to that the fact that there are less than 20 students in the class, and most of them are either in their final year of Religious Studies or in an M.Div. program. I was intimidated. Considering that most of my university education up until this point has been in Math and Chemistry, I felt like I was drowning the first few days. But, I digress. So, when I sat down to write this paper, I wasn’t really sure how to structure the writing, or really even how to start thinking about the paper. I had a minor meltdown and called one of my friends in hysterics, thinking that I just wasn’t smart enough to do this. After a laborious weekend spent pulling my hair out and biting my nails down to the quick, I finally had a finish product that I considered presentable at best. I handed it in, braced myself for a C, and pushed it to the back of my mind.

Yesterday, I got the paper back. I didn’t even want to look at the grade because I figured that it would depress me too much, so I stuffed it into my shoulder bag and left the school. Later, sitting in a coffee shop and trying to do my readings, I decided that I might as well get it over with. I pulled out the paper, flipped to the last page, and there was an ‘A’ staring back at me. I was floored. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I can be a smart Kiwigirl. I know that I am a good writer, and I have always been at the top of my paper-writing classes, but the problem is that I have always been a big fish in a small pond. Now I’m swimming with the big fishies, and I was worried about being eaten alive.

The point to all this is that we so often doubt ourselves. In fact, it seems like society encourages us to doubt ourselves. We’re never good enough to measure up to what we see around us: never thin enough, pretty enough, likeable enough. But, at the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, we rarely take the time out to just sit with ourselves and think about the things that we *are* good at. A little confidence can go a long way, and I find that when I have that spark of self-assurance, I actually perform better. Nobody can do their best work when they are constantly feeling like they are not going to measure up.

That little comment opened up a whole new world for me. There are things I am good at. And, yes, I might be in a bigger pond now, but I am still *me* and I am still capable. It’s easy to become intimidated. I feel it whenever I start something new, whether it’s a job, school, or even spending time with a different group of people. But I beat myself up when I don’t really need to, and I’m coming to realize that it’s unneccessary because it doesn’t really improve anything anyway. And it doesn’t always reflect the truth.

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9 years

9 years this month since we graduated high school. Looking back, it seems like just yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago. Have I changed inside? Not really. Am I where I thought I’d be? Not really. It’s funny how life twists us and turns us, and that linear path we had planned often doesn’t work out. My memories aren’t as crisp as they were, time has softened the edges and blurred the colors. What I have left are fragments and the pieces that stand out the most.

I remember how each of those 50 minute periods felt like they stretched out for 10 hours. How thankful we would be when those chimes signalled our release from a mathematical or literary torture. One of my favourite memories is when we would all pack up our lockers on the last day of school, and the boys down the hallway would be blasting “School’s Out for the Summer,” on a portable CD player. How the summers would stretch out ahead of me: the possibilties were endless, and those hot summer days seemed like they would never come to an end. But no matter how much I enjoyed my summer, I would always have a spark of excitement about returning to school and seeing friends I hadn’t seen in months, finding out which teachers I would have, and getting back to the familiar structure of a school day.

Looking back, I have fond memories of many of my high school teachers. They were an eccentric lot, and although one sometimes doubted their sanity, for the most part, I don’t question their dedication. I remember that first summer after I graduated high school, feeling lost and sad that I wouldn’t be returning in the fall. Compared to the ecstatic sense of freedom most of my friends were experiencing, I wondered why I was so sad about this ‘ending.’ But the truth is that once you leave those doors, the world is never quite as safe or as sheltered. A big adventure, but at the same time, a scary one, that carries with it a sense of loss of community and the realization that you are really just a small fish in a large pond.

 

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