Does it go without saying that this is a hard post to write? I'm not even sure where I'm going yet as I hesitantly coax words from my keyboard, but I have a suspicion that I am not alone, and it would be reassuring to know for certain if that is true.
It's one thing to understand, intellectually, that nobody is perfect. That people make mistakes and we're supposed to learn from those errors, and that we are all flawed creatures not living up to our potential. But it's another to look out from our solitary perspective trapped in our own bodies day after day and see all the ways we are falling short. Some days I feel like an utter failure.
I feel guilty on one level even writing that because it sounds ungrateful. My body works, my kids are adorable, my husband is wonderful and we are all together. I still have my parents, I feel close to my brothers and their families, and we have a weird dog to snuggle. I enjoy my work, I love my house, I have friends, and hobbies, and we don't lack for anything important. I even have Rubik's cubes with our store logo on them which is pretty darn cool in my book. Life is good and I'm not saying it isn't. I am an exceedingly lucky person and I know that.
However, some days are just inexplicably harder than others. And the days that feel the worst are the ones where I know I don't measure up. There are days where reassuring myself that I'm good enough feels akin to being a fraud. It's painful.
There are people who believe I know more than I do, and I feel ashamed when I let them. There is so much I don't know, that I should know, that I want to know.... I am humbled by how much I will never understand, by the number of books I will never read or the places I will never get to. There are days I wonder what landmines I am tripping in conversations due to my ignorance. I feel guilty about the number of things I am not doing.
I've had a few of days here of feeling overwhelmed at work, which spirals into not feeling present as a parent because I'm needed at the store and can't see my kids as much. I'm frustrated with my weight more than usual. I made the decision to abandon all hope of finding an agent for my novel after years of constant rejection and am beginning to embark on the less respected path of self-publishing which is disheartening. I'm at a complete loss about what to do with my non-fiction book at this point. I got my scores back from the recent violin competition and some of them were harsh. That, combined with the fact that I made a mistake working on something for a customer (I rectified the situation as best I could but I can't undo my error as much as I'd like to) has left me shaken and questioning myself at my bench. I haven't felt qualified to do almost anything. All I've wanted lately is to curl up in bed and watch the David Tennant seasons of Dr Who and eat chocolate.
But I get up anyway, and I make myself swim my mile in the morning. And go to work and do the best I can and hope that it's okay. I accept that failure in the writing industry doesn't have anything to do with how much I enjoy writing. I remind myself that I threw my violin into an international competition and of course I was going to be judged harshly there. (At the banquet I shared a table with a double gold medalist from France, and at the adjacent table were not one but two MacArthur genius award recipients, so no, I was not destined to score well by comparison.) I remember my kids don't care what I weigh and my husband still thinks I'm cute. I hate myself when I let people down, but I'm human. I'm not capable of doing everything right every time. I screwed up but the world is still turning.
That's the pep talk anyway. And I'm pulling out of my slump. The main thing I try to think about when I'm down is what I would say to any of my kids if they were having the same struggle. I would tell them mistakes are how we learn. Perfection is boring. We must strive to forgive and in turn remember to forgive ourselves as well. That I love them all the more for being human, not less.
That's so easy to do for my kids. Why is it so hard to do for myself?