DAY IDK +IDK
thoughts while editing:
I’ve been selling myself short.
From friendships, to guys, to teaching, to sailing, to my photography, writing, and in so many other parts of my life. Some for longer times than others but selling myself short nonetheless.
In the last twelve days, I’ve picked back up my camera, I’ve been working with a friend on a writing project, I’ve been swimming daily, editing photos, and sharing life with a man who is special to me.
I don’t know why I did it but for a while, at least a year, longer for other things, I’ve been stepping down from the podium, watching from the sidelines. My team has been scoring goals but they weren’t through my work. I was cheering, which was perhaps what needed to be done. It could be that I was fulfilling those moments exactly as they should have been filled. But it wasn’t all that I was doing. I was simultaneously telling myself that I wasn’t good enough to be out there.
In Mulhouse, where I was first a language assistant, I told myself that I wasn’t a trained teacher like my housemate. True, I wasn’t trained but I had had lots of experience teaching sailing. Experience that was applicable. Nonetheless, I told myself that I wasn’t enough.
At the pool I’d stop after every twenty-five or fifty meters. I made a fuss in my mind to swim one hundred meters. Yet, I’ve swam open water competitions where I had to swim five thousand meters. Why can’t I convince myself that I can swim one hundred meters without chilling at the wall to rest? When did I come to this conclusion? When did I put a limitation on myself concerning an activity that comes to me as naturally as breathing? I don’t know why. About six weeks ago I swam for forty-five minutes with three breaks of one to two minutes. Nothing changed besides the narrative I believed.
How is it that I’m slowly beginning to do things that I did before moving to Mulhouse. Photography, once my great love morphed into a horrible shadow. It made me nervous. My images weren’t always what I wanted them to look like. They weren’t what the moving images of the day looked like. My lenses were feeling strange. I put down my camera. Then it got dusty. I didn’t care. I left it there. I wasn’t any longer any good at photography. People with phones and having never studied a touch of photography were taking equally beautiful pictures. And now I’ve dusted it off, I’m taking photos again, at least I did while on vacation the other day, and the camera feels weird in my hands. I don’t remember all of the menus. Then sometimes I look through the viewfinder and muscle memory takes over. I can do this. I’ve done this for years. I must do this.
I am good enough. Even if I sometimes wear loose, flowery clothes, have untidy hair or walk barefooted in the grass. Unfortunately, I used this to restrict the guys I ‘allowed myself’ to be interested in. If someone dressed ‘properly’ I told myself that there was no way, that they would be interested in me. If the person is dressed like they’ve just left their Wall Street office, or just came back from golf, or sailing (even though I sail), the partner that they have in mind isn’t some ocean loving, somewhat untidy, hippy. To an extent, perhaps I am correct, those are completely different worlds but it doesn’t justify my exclusion. I am good enough. Some folks choose partners while taking into consideration their wardrobe choices, but not everyone.
The last example, the ‘late girl’. I have a long history of being late to everything. A history so ancient and seemingly set in stone, that I managed to accept it as a rule. Rushell will be late. Then sometime about four months ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to be late. I wasn’t going to be that version me. I was going to be on time because I have the ability to. I know exactly how to be late. To be early, it was just a matter of doing the opposite of all of those things. I was enough, I am enough.
Even as I write this, I’m telling myself, somewhere in the back of my mind that my writing isn’t good enough. You see I’m reading Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. Wilde’s writing is possibly the best writing that I have ever come across. I’m not yet halfway through and I want to read this book another ten times. I want to underline, highlight, rewrite, *memorize* so many parts of this book. Wilde’s work is a masterpiece. This feels like a primary schooler’s writing in comparison. Yet, I must write.
I must write for the same reason that I must travel, take photos, manage my budget, sail, swim continuously, paint, make friends. I write because if I don’t, I’ll believe that I can’t. I’ll believe that about art, making friends, maintaining a healthy weight, and playing harmonica. The list of things that I ‘can’t do’ will grow exponentially. Fewer and fewer will be the activities I would be willing to partake in.
Why are you so unsure of yourself? What are you telling yourself?
Why can’t you see the stardust in your being? Why can’t you see the inherent good, the ability, the savoir- faire that lies with in you? What message are you listening to? Why are you limiting yourself?
After a bit more of thought, I have a hypothesis. I’ve been a part of the school system since the age of two. Even when I did my Gap Year (& a Half), I was enrolled in different courses. Since the age of two, I’ve had constant, scheduled assessments and feedback on my abilities. I was grouped and sorted, measured against others taking tests at the same time as me, and of the same age of me. Then, I finished my student exchange year in Montreal, and instead of returning to university, I came to France. I sat on the other side of the desk and became a language assistant. Then, at the end of that contract, I renewed and came back to France for a second year. For the first time in twenty-two years, I haven’t been measured, evaluated and given feedback about my performance. There haven’t been pop-quizzes, there haven’t been finals nor mid-terms. I lost the structure that I’ve had for twenty-two years.
Also, perhaps equally important, in educational institutions, we are grouped and ranked within a range of abilities. I’ve been comparing myself, my hobbies, art, management, everything, to the wider world. The comparisons are no longer sailing team or lecture hall wide. I’ve entered an arena with more than seven billion other contestants. In a field of seven billion, I didn’t often come near to the top of any of my ‘tests’. I saw, and I see, how far away from the ideal I am. I’m often in the seventh billion division. Billions of others are better at the task. I didn’t succeed. Even after much effort and no ’A’, I got into a habit of giving up.
Well, that’s what I think happened anyway. I’m happy to be doing these things that I told myself I couldn’t. It’s like picking up a bike after seventy years and realising that I can still ride.
PS. I only posted four times last year. I’m hoping that my realisation of that which was mentioned in this post, would result in more posts in 2019.
From someone who is enough, to someone else who is enough,