You know that feeling when you take a minute to reflect on where you started and actually see the progress you’ve made to be where you are today… Yeah, that’s been happening a lot lately, and it’s pretty awesome! These last few months have been about overcoming insecurities and dispelling the lies I’ve believed about myself and what I’m capable of. Since completing my first two semesters in school, I am really proud of where I am and the perspective I’ve gained. In 10 short months, I went from doubting myself daily to proudly giving a big middle finger to anyone who made me feel that I wasn’t smart enough to hack it! It’s really been so good, all around.
Sometimes fresh perspective comes from some interesting people. When I was first enrolling in school last year, I had just finished venting all of my worries about what it was going to be like as a 32-year-old, single mother, living on our own for the first time since the separation, while working full time and dipping my toes into the waters of a new relationship. All while being a successful student….in a pandemic, let us not underestimate the pandemic. When I finally took a long, deep breath, the guy I was seeing at the time, very genuinely and directly asked me “Who told you, you were stupid?”. Listen. This was not some wonderful relationship that was meant to last, but I will be forever grateful that he said those six, thought-provoking words! (I’ll also never regret lying to him about loving sushi before our first date, thank God, it turns out I do! But that’s another story, for another day). Back to my point, I’m not sure any sentence has had such a profound impact on my life. When he said that, I was literally left speechless. I would NEVER let someone speak to me that way. Like, wow. Rude! But the shock subsided, with the realization that I’d been told these messages both indirectly and actually, pretty damn directly for years, and I was so accustomed to it, I didn’t even notice. And worse yet, I completely believed them. This was a super sad reality, and one that I have since discovered requires a lot of work to unlearn and heal from.
Since starting the first year of my program, I have experienced some wild highs and lows in every role I have had. Mum, student, employee, girlfriend…. sushi lover. Going back to school in your 30s is no joke. It has been so challenging, I’ve studied harder than I’ve ever studied in my life, and honestly, sometimes it wasn’t enough! I’ve really struggled with some concepts and even failed tests that I prepared hours for! There have been pretty devastating moments, and times that those lies about not being intelligent could really get stuck in my head. But then there are moments like this. On my summer break, when I check my inbox to see a letter informing me I’ve made the Honour Roll. Me! Little ole me! That confirms for me, maybe I’m just a little bit bright after all!
My biggest takeaway from this is to never let someone else’s insecurities and negativity become the voice in your own head. It becomes incredibly easy to start thinking that things I find challenging or difficult, must be a problem with me when in reality, IT WAS NEVER ME! These things are challenging for everyone, but with a little confidence and some squashing of the negative self-talk, things have really seemed to improve!
For now, I’m enjoying a little downtime off school over the summer, with plans to finish off the second half of my course starting in August. While I’ll never assume it will be easy, I know I AM bright, I AM intelligent and I AM capable of rising to the challenge, even if others don’t think I am. I’m not here to “prove them wrong”. I don’t have time to worry about anyone’s opinion of me, but my own. I have such a solid support team, cheering me on, helping with Arthurbear, and encouraging me to keep at it when I feel down and out, I am able to get through because of them! Boy am I grateful!
So yes, this academic year, I’ve learned about prescription eyewear, and a whole lot more algebra than I ever thought I’d need to know, but I’ve also learned to lean on those who really care about me, and to trust in myself because I know me better than anyone else might think they do! And I am smart enough!