Today I lost it. The world is for sure joining its forces against me. I was denied the grant to help fund my new book. And get this, this happened a day after I got a crappy grade on my exam in human rights and advocacy. As if this is not enough to ruin my day I can add a list of strikes against me:
A good friend nominated me for a women’s prize, but my name must have gotten lost in the pile of other names because I never even made the list of the people the committee recommended. (Or perhaps the nominating committee just held their stomachs, pointed to my name and laughed through the whole meeting).
I called, emailed, texted and wrote to a dozen people about Partners, and they never even bothered replying to me.
I wrote articles that I personally thought were masterpieces and got polite replies back from a long list of magazines and newspapers saying that they are sorry they cannot publish my piece this time, but good luck to you.
My blog is not gaining any followers.
My Instagram pictures have fewer likes than my children’s.
My husband got a better grade on his exam than I did, and that despite the fact that his writing is crap, and he spent two hours on it.
The new government in our country sucks so bad I am starting to feel like hiding the fact that I am Norwegian. I feel that even this could be a reason for me to fail in life.
And now the sheets I hang out to dry got rained on.
All around me I see people who succeed at everything they do. In fact, some of them have succeeded even before they start. Pieces are published in magazines, newspapers and online that get shared and commented on, and I read it and think that my stuff is so much better. Books get published and become bestsellers, and I think: Who likes this stuff? People wake up pretty. Others seem to have all the time in the world to go for runs, hikes, bike rides and exotic trips with their backpacks and tent. Me, I am feeling lucky the days I have time to take the dog for a walk for 30 minutes.
Everybody else seems to have the coolest friends and they are always getting together in the evenings wearing their nice clothes and perfectly manicured nails and drink wine from pretty glasses while they laugh at each other’s jokes and encourage each other. Me, I am often so tired that I spend the evenings at home, watching TV and eating potato chips.
The list could go on, but I feel that if I keep writing, I will put myself into depression and all the dishes piled up on my kitchen counter may never get done.
As I looked at the denial letter I got in the mail today, I honestly thought: Of course they would not grant me the money I applied for. What do they care? Plus, when will I get it? I am not very good at writing, or much else for that matter.
But then, after a while wallowing in self-pity I asked myself a question that needs to be asked. Who are you trying to impress?
I have been trying to teach my children this their whole life, but it seems I need to learn it myself to: What you do and what people think about you don’t determine your worth. It simply can’t. So often I set my own value based on my successes and failures. Obviously that means that some days I am super valuable, and other days I am completely worthless. The last week I haven’t been worth much more than the broken trashcan I use for composting.
What I have told others, and believe is true for them, is that their true worth is who they are when they take away all the exterior stuff. Our true value is not how we look, how much money we make, how many articles we get published, how many prizes we receive, or how many friends we have. Our true value is in the core of who we are.
Once Steve asked me, and I have been pondering this: “What would your worth be if you were paralyzed from the neck down, lost your hearing and your vision? Would that change my value as a human being?” If the answer is yes, then we do live in a world that places people’s value on their ability to perform, as well as on their performance. And to be totally honest, that is kind of the world we do live in.
But is it right? Of course not. A person has his or her value because of the fact that he or she is a human being, created in the image of God. Nothing can take that truth away. If I can just start believing that, and act as if it is true, then a denial letter or a bad grade won’t throw me into the sump of self-pity and depressive thoughts. It will just be a bump in the road, on the road called life.
So, here I am, on a rainy day, determined to keep striving to get better, and to aim for excellence. But at the same time as I am doing this, I will also keep reminding myself that the outcomes don’t determine my value. My value has already been set and it won’t change. In the words of Winston Churchill: Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.