During this semester, I was struggling in my French class. I had just received a low grade on one of my exams, and I was feeling stressed. One of my dormmates consoled me and encouraged me. “It’s just one bad grade. You have so many other chances to improve,” she said.
In my journal, I’ve been thinking about this type of interaction. We so easily encourage friends and family in the hard times. When a friend makes a mistake, I say to her, “This was just one mistake. You told me and were honest. Now you have me to keep you accountable.” When someone fails that test, it’s easy to let them know that the test is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, that in five years, that grade won’t matter. When I’m stressing about my major, people tell me, “You’ve got so much time” and “Most people don’t even have jobs related to their major.”
Unfortunately, my mindset doesn’t work this way. When the test goes awry, I wonder about whether or not I actually had drive or potential. This is worse when I believe I do something well.
Whenever I fail at something I’m supposed to be good at, it only reinforces the voice in my head that says “You’re not good enough, You’re not disciplined enough, You’ll never be successful.” It’s hard to succeed in a world full of distractions in the form of instant gratification and comparison. It’s even harder to succeed when you don’t believe in yourself.
I often think to myself about where I am in my life and where I want to be. In culture, we love envisioning ourselves in the future living our best lives, doing the things we love with people we love. Whenever I daydream away, I tend to snap back to reality harsher than before. I want to work harder and push myself more – but when I go beyond my limits, mistakes occur.
And when a mistake occurs, thoughts go off in my brain, “I’m not meant for this, Everybody else is better than me, Everyone else is further along, This is for someone smarter, not me.”
That voice in my head screams that I’m unworthy when I mess up, that when I falter, I should stop hiding because who I am is a failure.
This voice is so damaging because it breaks the self-esteem I have – and furthermore, compares the pictures of everyone’s else highlight reel, everyone else’s success story to my current reality.
Behind the highlight reel of someone else’s life is a daily struggle.
Life isn’t always puppies and rainbows, but Instagram and Youtube make it so. When I compare myself to these people that are more successful and are in the place I want to be now, I fall short, I don’t compare.
I don’t compare to an image that’s only a part of the story.
And yeah, my story sucks. Sometimes I’m not the best at catching myself when I fall. I kick myself while I’m on the ground, I blame myself before ever looking at the problem and asking if it was me at all. The lesson here is to give her grace.
When she sings the wrong words to everybody’s favorite song, give her grace. When she stumbles on her new high heels, give her grace. When she misses the details for the bigger picture, give her grace. When calculus is kicking her butt but she goes to office hours twice a week (me!), give her grace. When she laughs at a sad moment, give her grace.
I will never match a highlight reel. My life isn’t perfectly airbrushed and filtered. I got all the gunk and pretty mixed up. Some might say it’s an ugly watercolor, I say it’s just God molding me. Whatever it may be, give her grace. Give yourself room to breathe, to make a mistake, to mess up – give her grace.
Signing off, Gigi
Where in your life do you need to give yourself grace?
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