“I’m back bitches!” Is something I would never say in real life, but it seems somewhat appropriate after ghosting the few followers I accumulated in my year of blogging. Yeah, that’s right, I took some time off. Like, a whole year.
Was I bored? Not really.
Was I kidnapped? Likely story.
Did I run out of things to say? Never.
So what prompted me to walk away from the prolific essays, the perceptive observations, the perfect prose? Failure. I gave up because I submitted one (great IMHO) piece, got flat out rejected, and all but shriveled up and died.
Who does that? Apparently, me. And also, it occurs to me now that I’ve done it my whole life.
Isn’t that exactly what we advise our children not to do in their formative years? It should be. Don’t give up! Try again! Work harder! Why wasn’t I taking my own advice?
The answer is mindset. And mine sucked. But recently I read a great book by Carol S. Dweck, called- stay with me here- Mindset. It’s a book about business, education, relationships, parenting, and yes, even sports. And I was approaching it all wrong all this time.
When I was a kid, I was smart. At least that’s what everyone told me. I read at an early age. I won Spelling Bingo in 1st grade and the reward was teaching another class how to play. (As an aside, I had the brass at age 7 to get up in front of a class and literally lecture my peers on how to be awesome like me- that might have been the peak of my confidence.) I tested into the gifted program in elementary school. I was in advanced classes in Junior High. I got a perfect score on my first Regents final (algebra!). I took more AP classes than anyone else (had to opt out of basic physics for that accomplishment). I finished at the top of my class. I was the only student to get into a tough school from out of state. And so on.
It all seemed easy. I never had to try. And I didn’t want to work hard. I never took a risk. I sat on the sidelines when we played sports in gym. I tried to drop out of the gifted program repeatedly when the project deadlines loomed. I listened in class, but never studied for a test. I took gut classes with the athletes in college. I went home when group projects became all nighters. I took the first job out of college that didn’t demand weekend hours, and didn’t require going back to business school.
Was I lazy my whole entire life?? Was I weak? It sure sounds like it. It’s an ugly truth. But the truth is really more sad than ugly. I missed out on countless opportunities. I I didn’t learn to my fullest potential. I could’ve been so much more. I could’ve been filling this blog with meaningful nonsense for the past year. But I was afraid to fail.
I was afraid that the “smart girl” title I’d clung to desperately my whole life would be taken away from me. And if I wasn’t smart, (because we’ve already established that I was not the pretty one) what was I? I was afraid I was too clumsy and wouldn’t win in a sports arena, so I never played the game. I didn’t want to look bad. I didn’t want to be judged. I couldn’t stand it if I was told I was wrong or lesser, that news would devastate me. Just like the email that said “sorry, your submission is not right for our website.”
My mindset was all wrong. But I got my head screwed back on the right way after almost 40 years. It’s all about taking the risk. Putting yourself out there. Giving it your all. Working your hardest. You can always be a better version of yourself, but it takes effort. And it takes iteration. And it takes errors, and criticism, and utter rejection. This sounds familiar. This sounds like the mantras I use around my house to Finch and Sparrow and Lark.
It’s time to practice what I preach. It’s time to lay it all on the line. It’s time to lose followers, and get nasty comments, and let other talented writers tell me I don’t have what it takes. I think I can take it now. And more importantly, I think I will keep trying. I’m back bitches!