As I dive into a writing workshop this summer, I find my brain slipping into student mode. Not normal, healthy student mode. No – I don’t even really know what that would be like.
It’s more like psychotic, driven, perfectionist student mode. The one that earned me straight A’s for my entire academic career, with the exception of 2 B’s, years apart from each other, but both causing my heart to quiver inside me, my sense of value shaken. The one that drove a 6 year old to decide she would be valedictorian, resulting in horrible sleeplessness and anxiety during high school finals weeks, shaking hands during tests, countless tears over difficult assignments and challenging projects.
In this area and so many others, well-meaning people in my life identified my gifts and pushed me to not settle for anything less than my best. The problem is, to this day, I am not entirely sure what “my” best is. I’ve just run in frantic circles trying to meet all the opinions of what my best might be, not wanting to disappoint anyone who ever invested anything in me. (But more on my processing of this issue another time.)
I find myself wanting to make sure I have every school supply. I want to take the whole dang syllabus right here and now, map it out on a calendar of the weeks, break every bit of it into daily chunks, not miss a single bit. (Just typing this much of the post, I feel my head beginning to throb.)
And while this flies in the face of everything that has been my life’s practice, everything that seems logical, I know my objective for the next 10 weeks is not to set a whole list of goals and relentlessly chip away at them. Not this time.
I hear the Holy Spirit giving me my assignment: Soak. Absorb. Listen.
The biggest obstacle I face is myself, my own drive. But I am teaching my heart to slow down, to savor the life of every inhale and exhale. And I am hoping and praying, by relinquishing control and perfectionism in just this one small area, I will be able to turn a new corner, step into a chapter of life that will be less about achieving and more about seeing and savoring.