The semester is over. I feel kind of...empty, I guess? I think I fight this feeling a lot at the end of a term because I feel like there’s still a long way to go before I see any payoff.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and relieved to be done with this round of classes, but I’m also a little frustrated because there’s that constant voice in the back of my head telling me I could have done better. I’m mad about some choices I made throughout the course of the semester that honestly don’t even matter any more because it’s all done now. The grades that I have are set. I got an A for sure in government, a B in French, A’s in my choir classes, and a D in that stupid yoga class. I remember posting to you guys about it (it was very body shame-y and inappropriate, the teacher wanted to take everyone’s weight and BMI during class and I just stopped going) honestly I didn’t fight it any further. I was too ashamed to go talk to the instructor and I don’t think I can pursue it any higher up because of the classes that I missed. Like, what’s done is done. It was a stupid decision. I should have done something different but I didn’t because I was scared and humiliated. I’m mad at myself for letting that win out. I feel like I can’t have grace for myself because it was a stupid thing to let topple me over. And, I feel like there’s also no excuse for me not getting an A in French. I’m good with languages, and I wasn’t working for the last half of this semester, so why couldn’t I try harder?
I fight these feelings a lot when it comes to academics. I’m 27 and will be (technically) going into my junior year next year, and to be really brutally honest I feel like a fuck up a lot of the time because of that. I want to be further along. I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to go back to school. I have to work so hard to remind myself that my early 20’s were riddled with the wreckage of an emotionally and verbally abusive and neglectful home life, recovering from rape, and having extreme suicidal depression also peppered with terrible anxiety. I dropped out when I was 21 so I could start the hard work of dealing with all of that. It was time well spent, because the feelings I am talking about in this post are a once every other month kind of occurrence instead of a screaming cacophony that keep me paralyzed on a daily basis (which is where I was at when I was 21.)
It’s just that while I’m down in it, it feels like there is no end in sight. I am essentially certain that graduate school is on the plate for me, for anything I’m truly interested in doing long term. (I guess a small comfort is that all of the programs I have looked into only consider your GPA for the final 60 hours of your bachelor’s, and I have no doubts I can do very well in my junior/senior level course work at the 4 year university I am transferring to, because I’m studying subjects that deeply interest me: social science/psychology/sociology/women’s studies) And I’m tired of being broke all the time and taking a full load while working (my time off from work for the past 2 months is something I wrestled with pretty hard but it was necessary. I took out student loans to do it, because my mental and physical health were on the line again from being over stressed.)
Something my old therapist used to tell me to do was to imagine what I would tell the 5 year old version of me about everything that’s going on in my life and try to treat myself accordingly. So, if I was to switch gears right now and talk to 5 year old Natface, I guess this is what I would tell her:
“I know that you’re very tired, but you did a very good job in school and I am proud of you. It’s okay to not be perfect. Nobody is perfect. People love you just the way you are and you deserve that. You don’t have to do anything to be good enough. It’s okay to feel good about everything you have done. You had things happen to you that are not your fault at all and I’m so sorry, but you are living your life for you now and that is very brave. I know it’s hard, but it’s okay to rest when you get very tired and ask for help when you need it. It doesn’t make you weak. Everyone needs help sometimes and you are a very helpful person to other people so I know it will make them happy to help you too. Your friends love you and they don’t want you to feel lonely so it’s okay to call them when you’re having a rough time. You’re not a burden on anyone. It’s also okay to make mistakes, it doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t ruin things forever. Also, it doesn’t really help you to stay mad at yourself for a long time when you make a mistake. I know you think that staying mad at yourself helps you not do it again but it really just hurts your heart, and you don’t deserve that. You are a good person. You are kind and you want to help people, and you are very smart.”
It’s hard to be my own friend and caregiver sometimes. Writing things out like this or actually closing my eyes and talking out loud to 5 year old me (it sounds cuckoo to some, I know, but it’s a powerful tool for me) always makes me cry, because I realize that I don’t deserve the harsh and unrelenting judgment that I put on myself. But, I have to have grace myself even in that and know it’s a habit that was installed in me a long time ago so I wouldn’t question some really fucked up shit that was going down in my family life. I just want to keep unlearning that behavior so I can feel like that happy 5 year old kid again and get to where I want to be in life without feeling like garbage the entire time.