Apr 2, 2017

Grit.

Well here it is. The closing days of winter break. I feel incredibly guilty at how indulgent I have been over this break. My trip to Port Townsend. The views. Lincoln City. The beach. Barking sea lions. Long thoughtful drives. A ferry ride. Days of doing literally nothing. Blogging. Incredible hiking. A dance. Seeing an old friend. Shopping. Sleeping in until 8. Finishing all 5 seasons of Suits. I honestly cannot remember the last time I reveled so much in my free time. I did no homework. I did no piano practicing. I did not wash one school bus. I did make my bed, take showers, and do my laundry just in case you long to start rumors about me.

Tomorrow real life must start again and I confess I am deeply afraid of it. More than I am afraid of spiders. Which is a lot. My two online classes for next semester have been uploaded and I peeked at them and I am worried. Math and Finance in the same semester. Can I do this?  Do I have what this requires? Am I smart enough? Am I strong enough? Is there an end? Will I recognize the end? What if I fail? Is this the right choice? Am I brave? Can I follow through?

Everything has seemed so clear since my divorce. I was astonished at the ease that I figured out how to go back to school. Surprised at how I got a job that worked with being in school and with my children's lives. Thrilled at my ability to get my school paid for. Hopeful about the potential for a relationship. Grateful to my parents who have been so supportive and sacrificed their peaceful, blissful retirement so me and my girls could come here to regroup.

Yet, I cannot describe the worry and doubts that have plagued my mind lately about my decision to go back to school. My decision to give up on finding a relationship. My wondering about whether I should just quit school and get a full time job that I can support myself and my two girls with. Everything had been so clear and then all of a sudden, almost overnight, it wasn't. Doubt and everything that comes along with it have been stalking me for at least a month and a half. Not a day has gone by that I did not ask myself the question, "What is wrong with me?"

Tonight as I was methodically delving into my classes for this semester hidden among the syllabus's, course instructions, grading policies, and announcements was a seemingly innocent suggestion from my new Math teacher to follow a link to a TED talk. I have a goal to follow every link in my classes this semester and to read everything very carefully so I clicked on the link. Not that it was hard because, hello,TED Talk. Who does not love those?

It was short but it was exactly what I needed. It was Angela Duckworth the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. As I listened to her talk about how grit is what makes the difference in who succeeds and who does not I felt the heavy "I am scared about my life" feeling fade away. I had not realized how incredibly heavy things have been. Thinking about grit made me find my resolve and helped me pull out of this feeling that I cannot do anything right. Grit grabbed my determination and said pull yourself together.

I am not sure when I first noticed the book Grit:The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I love to frequently check up on the New York Times Bestseller list maybe I saw it there. Maybe it was one of those times that I treated myself to wandering through Barnes and Noble? Knowing me it was probably that article about the book in The Wall Street Journal last May. I honestly do not know for sure. I do know that I have almost bought the book a few times but that spending money thing always stopped me. The title fascinated me. I tried to justify the purchase by saying it would be for one of my kids. But I never bought it.

Grit is such an odd word. We rarely use it in everyday conversation. When I hear it I immediately think about the different types of sandpaper there are. You know, fine grit. coarse grit, medium grit. Cowboys definitely have grit. Some people eat grits. Some people grit their teeth. Yeah, a lot of things come to mind when you hear the word grit. What is the opposite of grit? Soft? What is in the middle between grit and soft? If you have grit you have firmness of character. if you have grit you are not afraid to fail.

So I am sure you noticed that I started this blog at the end of Christmas break and...ahem... never finished it. Today happens to be the end of Spring Break and I have come up for air. The semester I dreaded ends this week. I survived my 14 week semester of Math and Finance together. It even looks like I have an A and a B in my classes, but that is not official yet. It was a hard semester, I was right to be afraid of it and wonder if I could do it. I had no idea I could do what I just did. I did not do it alone. I had a tutor. I spent countless hours on the phone with my son in Estonia going over Math problems. I often did not answer the phone when people called this semester I just did not have time. I did not parent anyone the whole semester. I cried and wrung my hands in despair a lot.

If you have grit you have courage, you are conscientious, you follow through, you have endurance, and resilience is there as well. Basically you are a dream team of amazing personality traits. I want to have grit when I grow up. Angela thinks we need to teach it to our children more, stop coddling them. Sigh, I wish someone would coddle me. Do my homework for me. Tell me it is okay to sit and read a book all day. Maybe even give me a certificate acknowledging how well I can do nothing :)

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