I’m writing in defiance of one of my greatest pursuits and at times one of my greatest frustrations—knowledge.
Why the defiance? It goes way back...
When I was little and in school, I was “smart.” And I knew it. I loved school. I did everything I could to keep my grades as high as possible. Even in areas where I didn’t hold as great of an interest, such as math and science, I still tried to do my best to get my homework in and make the teachers happy with me.
Some of the other kids would tease me and call me “teacher’s pet.” Maybe this was partially because I had glasses since age 3, or because I raised my hand and the teachers called on me often. Maybe it was partially because my mother taught in the same school. And maybe it was because they knew I did well in school.
But I didn’t care as much that they teased me for being smart. Because my being smart made the adults happy, and they liked me. And they praised me. And as often as I got teased and excluded from my peers for so many different reasons, I really didn’t care too much about making them happy after awhile. The approval of the adults was all I needed.
One time, when I was really young and studying music, I tried to work ahead a few pages in my workbook. I wanted to impress the teacher, to show her that I worked ahead and did it all by myself. It turned out that the way I’d tried to work ahead was completely incorrect. I still remember my teacher’s stern voice, telling me that what I’d done was all wrong and never to work ahead again. I felt humiliated.
I remember one time in fourth grade, I got almost all of my answers marked wrong on a math test. We had to spell out the numbers and were told that spelling counted. I didn’t know how to spell the word “million” correctly. I left out the second “i.” So, because I spelled it wrong on each answer, even though the numerical answers were correct, I got a D minus on that test. I still remember the taunting of the kid behind me as he saw me sitting in my desk with that test in my hand and tears in my eyes.
Although I’ve come a long way from those elementary-school days, there are so many times that I still feel slightly ashamed, embarrassed, or at the very least frustrated when I don’t know something. Especially if it’s something I think I “should” know, or something that I’d love to know. I’ve always had a naturally curious streak, and my tendency to want to learn things to impress others has morphed into a thirst for knowledge simply to better my own life and the lives of others if I am able to do so.
Now, this applies selectively, of course. I have no problem admitting that I am not a math genius, for instance. I’m extremely grateful that there are math geniuses. It’s just not one of my gifts. And that’s a good thing. ;)
But when it comes to stuff I’ve worked at time and time again, life lessons that seem to keep repeating themselves, or things that I think I’ve finally got figured out, only to realize I don’t at all have them figured out, I still often get extremely frustrated with myself. This also applies to areas where I’ve grown into and through what I’ve known and have come to a point of confusion again.
My thirst for knowledge has led me into so many adventures already in my life.
It’s gotten me through grade school, high school, and college with overall good grades the whole way through. (Physics, algebra, and biology gave me some definite gray hairs. But I survived, somehow.) ;)
It’s gotten me through going to high school and boarding in a town an hour away from my hometown, going to college two hours away, and moving halfway across the country almost ten years ago, to a place where I knew no one but my future husband.
It’s gotten me through an emotional and heartwarming journey with music that continues to this day.
It’s gotten me through jobs ranging from banking to retail, medical transcription to secretarial work.
It’s gotten me through urgent wake-up calls in my physical health after losing a father suddenly to a massive heart attack, watching a mother deteriorate over years of time with Parkinson’s, and experiencing my own 2-1/2-year journey with chronic acid reflux, which I no longer have.
It’s gotten me through exploring the emotional and spiritual landscape of myself and my family so that I could heal so much within my heart that needed to be healed, and so I could learn what healthy relationships actually entailed and how to establish and maintain them with others who were open to the same.
It’s even gotten me through learning all I have so far about starting an online business, self-publishing a book, and doing my best to let my voice be heard in this crazy, noisy world.
That said, you may be able to see why, when I come to a point where I can’t figure something out, I can get really frustrated.
But here’s the truth about me. Yes, I’ve figured so many things out. Yes, I’ve experienced so much, especially considering my numerical age and some of my life experiences.
Yes, I often take big calculated risks, based on what I’ve learned and where I may still want to go in my life. Because I know that the regret of not taking many of the risks I take will be greater than any adverse outcome of taking them. And yes, my intense curiosity has served me in so many areas of my life and will continue to do so.
But there are still SO MANY TIMES when I just. can’t. figure. something. out.
So I do what many of us undoubtedly do. I stew over it.
And I research. And I read. And I order books. And I Google. And I ask people questions. And I consult the advice of others who may know. And I research some more.
And I sit in silence for long periods of time, each day. And I think. And I feel whatever comes up. (Truly. I do this.)
I feel the frustration. I feel the need to research. I feel the helplessness. I feel the uncertainty. I feel all the fears as I discover anything new. I ask myself all the questions I can think of, and then I ask more. I worry. I dress rehearse tragedy. Sometimes I escape that mental craziness and actually imagine the good possibilities. Then I dress rehearse dreams. Sometimes a little too vividly!
And then I decide that I’m likely not the only one who has a hard time admitting that they don’t have all the answers, even if they do their best to try to let their life be their greatest teacher. And it’s actually okay.
Even more, I thought I’d actually share about this very topic today. Why?
Because I thought and thought and thought all week about a topic to reflect with you about today. And I came up with absolutely nothing. Nothing came.
To top it off, I’ve been fighting a bit of a winter bug this last week that seems to be going around. So as I write to you, I’m running on a very rare 3-1/2 hours of sleep and no coffee. I don’t drink coffee anyway, and normally I need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night in order to function well.
I drove myself crazy all week with thoughts of, “This is the week I’m going to do it. This is the week I’m going to quit blogging.” Granted, it’s not the first time I’ve had those thoughts. I even said to my husband last night, for the umpteenth time in the past couple of months, “I have no idea what to blog about anymore. I’m just going to throw in the towel. I made a commitment, and I feel pressured to keep it, but I don’t know how. What am I going to do?”
Then, early this morning, as I lay wide awake, I thought of something that bestselling author Liz Gilbert has said several times. To paraphrase, she’s said, “If you are a woman in this world, and you have the agency and the freedom to use your voice (or your gifts) to create good in this world, you must do so—if only for all of the other women still living in this world, who, for so many reasons, do not have those opportunities.”
And so I knew I couldn’t quit after all.
I’m due for a big brain dump of new ideas. My original one gave me over 40 ideas for this blog, and I’ve really covered so many of those topics. A few others seem best reserved for other forums, which I’m still contemplating. And, funnily enough, right before I decided to write to you about how I was all out of ideas, I thought of a good one for next week. :)
I don’t shy away from being confident to share about areas that I feel I’ve grown so much through and have learned so many things about in my own life. I feel I have so much to offer others in those areas. That said, I know that what people present online can so often be chasms away from what their real lives are actually like. And as I said in the very beginning of this blogging journey, if you’re looking for perfection, that’s not me.
So I thought I’d be both brave and creative today. I decided to tell you that even up until 2:30 this afternoon, I had no idea what I was going to write to you about. Telling you this is brave, at least for me, because I’m publicly admitting that I couldn’t figure something out before my inner critic told me I was “supposed to have.” And creatively, I decided to make that the very topic of this week’s reflection. :)
Take that, crazy inner critics.
In closing, I’ll say this: If there’s something in your own life that you can’t figure out right now, and it’s really frustrating or upsetting you, I just want you to know that it’s okay if you can’t figure it out. And no matter what, you will get through it. And if you don’t, then, depending on your belief system, you won’t know either way and won’t need to worry about it, or you’ll be in a much different realm where maybe you will understand more of those answers! :)
Keep searching. Keep thinking. Keep feeling. Keep taking well-educated actions and even brave risks if you feel called to, based on what you know and what you are learning. Keep falling and failing and stumbling and trying to figure out where the next step is.
And if need be, don’t forget to take time to lean into the uncertainty and see if you can just go with whatever is happening in life. Even if it isn’t easy. Even if it feels terrifying. Even if, in some cases, it challenges your very physical or emotional being.
I don’t have all the answers. None of us do. And you know what? Sometimes, that’s really okay. ;)
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I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me a personal note through my Contact page, or leave a comment below. Does your thirst for knowledge get the best of you at times too?
Even though we may never know all of the answers, would you like to explore more potentials for yourself anyway? ;) Check out my first book here.
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,