But I was a big fish in a little pond, for sure.
Placement tests landed me in honors or college prep classes in high school; and there was no question that I’d take art classes for electives. But I learned quickly that there were lots of people out there who were waaaay smarter and waaaay more talented than I was. I was intimidated.
As I progressed, I had increasingly limited space for electives. It had been pounded into my head that in order to get into a “good college” I needed to have 4 years’ worth of Math and Science classes – both of which had become electives for me as a junior and senior. I still hadn’t settled on my intended major, but I’d always loved the sciences and didn’t want to rule out a career in the field. I had to choose: pursue entry into a fine arts college or go for a more academically focused college. I stopped choosing art electives figuring I could always draw and create on the side.
To be fair, I also believed that I didn’t necessarily want to work as an artist for fear that I’d grow to hate creating on a deadline which may, in turn, have fostered resentment towards design and drawing. Art was something that I held dear – a haven I could retreat to. It was a precious thing I didn’t want marred by adult life.
But if I’m really being honest, I must admit that my choice also stemmed from my lack of confidence in my talent compared to my peers. Seems to me now, that when the going got tough, I chickened out (to an extent).
I’m only just realizing that this tendency has followed me into adulthood. It’s not that I consciously think, “Oh crap, this is hard. Forget this.” It’s more that I find myself engaging in negative self-talk. You’re not strong enough. You’re not in good enough cardiovascular shape. You’re not talented enough. You’re not smart enough. And, boom: I give up.
Another problematic characteristic I own -- that I imagine grew from my perfunctory and nonchalant efforts in childhood -- is that when I choose to do something, I want to be
the best among the best and I want it fast. Not instantly,
but quickly. Some people play instruments by ear, some just learn chords and
some sight-read the sheet music. If I play an instrument, I want to be able to
do it all and I don’t want it to take 5 years before I can achieve that goal.
(Hey, I never said I was being reasonable.)
I suppose it all goes back to that whole type A personality thing. Wikipedia describes Type A individuals as: ambitious, organized, status conscious, impatient, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. Fortunately for me, the description also included: always try to help others, can be sensitive, care for other people, and are truthful.
Um, yeah. That about sums me up. Holy cow. (read the Type B personality paragraph if you want to know my husband.)
I am learning and growing though.
has done is doing a lot to change my way of thinking. If there’s one
practice out there that encourages you to look inward, to listen to your body
and avoid comparing yourself or your practice to others, it’s yoga. Yoga
encourages cultivation of a playful, curious and noncompetitive attitude during
asana practice. Frequently you are instructed to forego any sense of attachment
to successful execution of a particular pose -- to be wary of becoming overly
intense in your desire to perform the poses or, conversely, of temptation to give
up because it seems too challenging.
One of the secrets of adulthood, according to Gretchen Rubin, is that you can get a lot done by doing a little bit at a time. I try to remind myself of this frequently. It’s okay to be the turtle. The old cliché “slow and steady wins the race” holds true. Except there’s no race. Just life. There doesn’t have to be a finish line in sight. I’m allowed to do something just because I like it.
Goals are great, but I have to remember they’re not everything. Whatever activities I enjoy, if I work a little every day, chances are I will grow and improve. It may not seem like things are evolving sometimes, but when I find myself stressing about accomplishments, I must remember to reframe and adjust my focus. Sometimes, I need to do things because they bring me pleasure, not always because I’m trying to achieve a goal. Sometimes, the joy and gratification comes from the doing, not the completion.