It is unfortunate, but I’m not always well versed in self esteem. In fact, I tend to second guess myself far too often, only seeing the negative aspects of what I have done or said and completely ignoring the fact that I might have said or done something quite brilliant….which, from time to time, I do actually do or say. Seriously. I really do. I know…..I’m surprised to hear it, too, and I’m the one saying it. See? Self esteem and I are not really on complete speaking terms. I know….don’t even ask what my point is, because you know I have one. I always do.
Today, I spoke to my favorite professor at school. I’ve had her for three classes, so far, and her insights as well as her guidance are just amazing when it comes to literature. I can’t exalt her literary insights enough. When I went back to school in the Spring of 2010, it was her lit class that I took, and I learned SO much in that class…about literature, but also about myself. Which kind of leads me even closer to my point…
As I said, that American Writers class taught me way more than I thought it would (especially since I was so intimidated by the fact that it was an upper division course, and not only was I a Freshman, I also had been out of school for over 20 years). I knew I’d learn more about various American writers…that was a given. And since I was more steeped in British writings, I knew there was quite a bit to learn. The styles between the two are so completely different, that it was really strange to delve into the American after being a self-proclaimed British writing enthusiast for so long (and thereby avoiding American writers). But, along with learning about the technical differences about the two types, as well as genres, I learned a lot about ME. I learned that I am really, REALLY good at literature; at reading and comprehending it, as well as pulling it apart and analysing what the author meant when they wrote what they wrote. And, I learned that I love it, even more than I thought I loved it. If I had to do this for the rest of my life, I would be absolutely contented. Reading and analysing….there is something absolutely sublime in the sheer concept, at least to me.
But this is about self esteem…primarily MY self esteem. My reasoning for meeting with my professor (and advisor) was to get my final papers from her, from the Spring 2011 semester (I had her for two classes last semester, which was hard since she requires SO much reading, but hard in a good way). I am always very interested in how I end up doing on my final papers in my Lit courses, because I learn a lot from the grades I receive on those papers. In this case, I did perfectly on my upper division (a 200 out of 200) and I was ten points shy of a perfect score on my 200 level course (240 out of 250 points). She discussed the reasoning behind the ten points off on the latter paper, and I understood as well as agreed with her reasoning. I made silly mistakes….I knew everything she was telling me, and I even knew these things when I wrote the paper, but for whatever reason, I focused in on the wrong areas. Not that I was wrong…I just wasn’t complete. And this is why I ask for my final papers back; I learned quite a bit when she and I discussed that paper, and it will absolutely help me to become a better literary scholar.
In the course of our discussion, we were talking about things related to literature, and I confessed that I knew I’m damn good at what I do. I GET literature, and I know how to write about it. My writing proves that I get it, because I know I get flashes of brilliance in what I write. I know this sounds haughty and quite egotistical, but it’s true. I do have moments of brilliance. I also have moments of complete ridiculousness where I completely miss the point, but that’s really part of life. It’s those moments of brilliance that prove to me that I am truly good at what I do. And it’s why I do it….I love to pick up and book, read through it, and see the little clues the author has left for the reader to convey the reason why they wrote the book (books aren’t always meant to just entertain…just to let you know that. Read Dickens and tell me that his stories were meant merely to entertain…). These clues are like little presents, left for the reader to open and discover. I live for those presents. Call me a geek or a nerd, but I honestly do.
The really cool thing was that when I did say that I’m damn good at what I do, my professor agreed with me. This is someone I look up to….a mentor of sorts….and she basically told me I rock. For someone like me, who really has a hard time really admitting that I’m good at what I do, that was an amazing moment.
When I got home, I pulled out my papers and read through them. I hadn’t even thought about the topics of these papers since I’d written them, so the content was somewhat forgotten. And had I not known that they were written by me, I think I might have thought them to be pretty flipping awesome. They really were that good. As I went through them, even the one where I sidestepped the main point, I was shocked at how well written they were, in both content as well as mechanics. The person who wrote those papers knows what she’s doing. She really is amazing. I am amazing.
I know….a lot of people will think this is a silly posting. And in a way, it is. But I needed to say it. I am far too hard on myself when it comes to my work, and I underestimate myself on a regular basis. I focus in on where I am lacking, rather than admitting that where I am great far outweighs the parts that are sub-standard (and even sub-standard is a harsh way to put it, since it’s hardly sub-standard….it’s just not at the perfection I feel it should be. I have very high expectations, which means it’s too easy to beat myself up when I don’t hit the level I feel I should). But those papers were great, awesome, fan-effing-tastic. They really were. And my professor agreed with me, which means it must be true 😉
It really is hard for me to admit to these things. I do beat myself up far too often, and never give myself the credit I deserve. It’s time to reverse that to a certain extent, and admit the fact that I rock….most of the time 😉 Now to start believing that on a consistent basis. That will be the hard part.