Recently, I wrote a post all about my horribly, ugly breakdown – also known as my not so perfect breakdown. This post generated a lot of support for me as I worked to pick myself back up and carry one from a moment of self-pity. And I am ever grateful for the support from the blogging and infertility world. Some days are hard. Damn hard. But, knowing that I am not alone, and knowing that I have so many people cheering us on, makes the world seem a bit brighter on those dark days. So, first, thanks to everyone.
But, today, what I really want to talk about is two specific comments I received from Candid Kay and Waiting Between The Lines. They both took the time to offer support and encouragement, but to challenge my way of thinking.
See, as they both pointed out, I am holding on to my old definition of success.
Hard work = success
For my entire first 29 years of life, this definition had worked so well for me (it’s also probably part of the reason I’m a workaholic that has literally worked myself to the point of burnout – but that’s another topic for another day). It really didn’t make a difference what was going on in my life, I was able to overcome a challenge, simply by working even harder.
- In elementary school, I was a horrible speller. But, I studied hard. My parents helped me and would quiz me for hours upon hours. I learned tricks to help me spell tough words – like to-get-her = together. (Truth be told, I’m still not an awesome speller, but I almost always have spell check and to this day if I write together I say it to-get-her in my head).
- In high school, I struggled with math. Once my grads started to drop, my Dad hired me a private tutor. Well, I didn’t achieve my standard 90%+ in the subject, I was able to pass and get into university where I was able to pass university calculus and multiple advanced statistic courses. (I’m still not a number wizard, but I don’t need to be in my chosen career or in my personal life because my husband is a brilliant when it comes to numbers).
- In graduate school while completing my master degree, due to an unethical professor I was in a tough ethical situation while working on a research project. I challenged the professor which was definitely not an easy thing to do and in the end I met with the Dean of the faculty to force appropriate changes.
The list can go on, but I think you get the point – hard work, standing up for myself when I have to, and diligence results in success.
And when hard work wouldn’t work, I have always been able to recognize that and move on. For example:
- When I decided to stop playing the flute, I realized that if I worked harder at it I would likely get better, so I took private lessons. But, eventually I realized that getting better wouldn’t actually overcome the problem. See, I absolutely hated playing the flute. Truly hated every second of it, and so no increase in hard work would change that. So, I cut my losses, sold my flute and have lived a very happy non-flute filled life ever since.
- And, I even realized pretty darn quickly when my mom and sister died that I couldn’t change it. There was nothing I could do, not even hard work would ever change this reality. I couldn’t change the circumstances, their death, as is all death, was final. So, I continued to live and worked hard to make the most of my life.
So, I find it fascinating that I have failed to recognize that in the circumstance of recurrent pregnancy loss, hard work simply will not result in success. So, beyond eating well, taking my vitamins and avoiding crack-cocaine (you know the normal healthy pregnancy stuff) I cannot influence the outcome. So, what I have failed to recognize is that my old mantra, doesn’t work in this circumstance when I cannot effect the outcome.
But clearly, for some reason, I’ve been unable to let go of my old definition. It proved accurate for so many years, that I have been unwilling to see that it doesn’t always work and it will not work in this situation.
But, now, I can see that as long as I hold onto my old definition of success and relate it to recurrent pregnancy loss, I will continue to fail.
Trying harder will not fix this, because there is no ability to influence the outcome – given my non-religious attitude, I hate to say it, but this is clearly one of those circumstances where the outcome is left up to fate or destiny or some higher power (or maybe just biology and chromosomal alignment). But, the most important thing here is for me to recognize that my influence on the outcome is non-existent.
I feel rather stupid for not seeing this on my own, as everything I’ve been working on lately is about living messy and allowing things to just be, even if they aren’t perfect. Essentially, working to realize that I cannot control everything. So, how could I have missed such a critical point in all of this? But, rather than waste time being annoyed at the fact I missed this now obvious fact, I am going to work to change my attitude, or better said, I am going to work to shift my perspective.
So, how the heck to do I effectively change my perspective on defining success?How do I move from my old, concrete definition to one of flexibility that varies based on the circumstances? How do I lower the bar I set for myself so many years ago, and at the same time not feel like I’m letting myself down? How do I look at different situations as new possibilities, rather than just seeing them as failures because they don’t fit within my predefined success measures?
Much like all my introspective thoughts I don’t have the answer right now. But, as a first step, I am able to recognize that not having the answers is okay.
And, I cannot forget about what I do have right this very second – I have a more self-aware mindset. And if nothing else, this new mindset should help me identify when I start to turn to my old definition of success. So hopefully, moving forward, I can catch myself and refocus before I fall too deep into the hole.
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