I’ve signed up for an online writing course that will begin this July, and so over the next few months I’ll have posts that respond to writing prompts that may seem out-of-place or off-topic. Sounds like a fun summer experiment, right? Thought so. Here’s my first one.
Life is hard and confusing, and there are a lot of days ahead of you where it’s going to feel like you are a big stupid failure. And, you might just be a big stupid failure in the days ahead, but this is what I want you to remember: Being alive is awesome.
And life isn’t about black or white, A or B, winning or losing. Instead, it’s all a bunch of grey-in-the-middle.
When you start at your first job, you’re not going to be the best employee ever. And when you make a mistake, even a big one, you’re not suddenly the worst employee ever. You’re just an employee. An employee who has good days and bad days. An employee who tries hard to exceed demands, but doesn’t always reach that goal.
I wish that someone would follow me around and tell me this every day. It’s just so easy to forget, to feel like one bad moment is the end of your life, the end of your reputation with the person wronged, the end of your friendship or career track. It is so easy to forget, so hear me say it one more time: You are neither wholly good nor wholly evil. There is always going to be a piece of you that is messy (why hello, pop culture reference) and there is always going to be a piece of you that longs to be better, more than.
Accept this messiness, and revel in it, because this conflict is who you are. Accept it, and tell your over-achieving self that the clock keeps ticking, the sun keeps rising, and the bits in you that are bad do not – cannot – change in any way the truth that you bear the image of Goodness. That you are valuable.
And so, when you miss an important deadline, or you spill your coffee into your boss’s office chair, or you accidentally use the wrong form of “effect” in a memorandum, stop the panic for a moment. None of these mistakes render you worthless, but they will teach you things. You’ll learn to update and then double-check your calendar, to always use a travel mug with a secure lid, and to set your MS Word grammar check to underline misused words, clichés, passive voice. These are good things to learn.
Have faith, be strong, keep trying. You can do it. You’re ready.