(SIDENOTE: When I originally wrote this post, it didn’t start out as my own personal therapy session. It turned very deep, very quickly, and I’m sorry that I’m so self-centred enough to believe people want to read this. As I said, writing my own thought processed down makes my emotions and thoughts clear in my head, something I’ve struggled with for a long time.)
When May arrived, I promised myself I would write a post twice a week – I have to make sense of what I’m thinking and feeling in order to write it down, so the difficulty I have in discovering what I’m feeling is negated – but I wanted to save this weeks post until we picked up our new dog, Roxy. She was meant to be coming home with us yesterday, but unfortunately, the vet wants to see her again on Monday, and we can’t pick her up until next weekend. So that’ll be next weeks blog (hopefully)!
I wanted to write today, to try and figure out how I feel about my first exam in two weeks, my English Literature AS Retake. Though I don’t feel more prepared than last year, when I had teacher help and class discussion to gather thoughts and ideas, I do think I understand the texts much better. I even enjoy reading some of the poetry that I vowed I hated (though still not a fan of Rossetti’s Goblin Market. If I ever am, we know something has gone wrong).
But as the exam draws closer – 12 days away now – I doubt myself far more than I did last year. Now, judging on the grades I got last year, this isn’t surprising. What if I get the same grade? What if I don’t improve and all of the time and energy spent on revision (which I’ve been doing since October) was for nought?
I want to be able to say two things before I die:
- I am a published author
- I died better than I was born
The first of these I can work on myself, by writing and revising the things I write to improve my skill. The second comes alongside the first, but it’s not just bettering the things I do. It’s by bettering myself as a person. Personally, I think this relates to my experience of anxiey; my biggest fear is never being good enough, worthy enough of the fortune that has fallen in my lap, being white and living in one of the richest countries in the world (gender and sexuality excluded from my privilege list). By consistently wanting to improve myself, I am on the road to being good enough. By doing hours of English revision, I should do better in the exam than I did last year, making me better than last year, right?
The main problem lies in the phrase “good enough.” By whose standards?
Everyone will have different opinions about what classifies as good enough and, for myself, mine are incredibly high. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist in anything but my treatment of other people; my work can be untidy, I don’t have to get the highest grade out of everyone I know and my life can be falling apart at the seams, so long as I am good to other people. The anxiety and fear lies when I do something that might, in some possible way, offend, dissapoint or upset someone.
Good enough, for me, is not letting anybody down. Which is fine, until you realise that I feel like making a single mistake or social faux pa is letting people down. In terms of English, because that’s the career path I’ve tripped into, getting another D on this exam in 12 days is letting everybody down, myself included.
The real damner is in something else though; I only apply these standards to myself. Other people can get away with murder, so long as I don’t disappoint anyone. And that brings the word “doormat” to a whole new level.