Growing into Myself

I am trying this again.  Handwriting versus writing directly on the computer page.  This is inspired by Margaret Atwood’s Masterclass and my own experience. I know I write deeper when I handwrite versus type, but “efficiency” has gotten in the way of my process. As if it is efficient to write something that isn’t quite as deep. Good Lord in heaven, the mysteries of the mind and my “critic’s” ability to lure me into off-track thinking.  I have spent far too much time listening to that misleading voice, that voice that knows just how much reality to mix with fiction to set the hook firmly in my mouth. A master at deception cloaked always in the reassuring words of a wise woman. telling me in such kind and firm words just how little I know, how silly my ambitions are, how all that hope is well and good, but let’s face the facts: you were never that smart to begin with, what possible chance is there now, as an older woman, of making any real impact in the world writing-wise? Who do you think you are anyway? Best to leave “real “ writing to those with a clearer voice and a stronger mind.

Aw, just writing that makes me shrink back and remember Mother’s horrid IQ test. I, her first victim, struggling for answers and then seeing the look of disapproval on her face, as if I were the stupidest person she had ever encountered. Never mind that she later realized that she had administered the test wrong in several areas. Not to mention that as my mother, she was not a neutral test administrator, which affected my performance from the get-go. And her comparison of me to my friend, Patricia. “Now there’s a smart girl,” she said after testing her, though later shaking her head at Patricia’s job choices and muttering, “Underachiever.” I, on the other hand, was the overachiever and despite my retaking the IQ test in graduate school and getting a much higher score, my PhD psychologist mother looked skeptical when I told her and said, “No, I’d put you at bright-normal category, just like me.” 

How sad to think of my little girl self being flattened in that way – by her words – and me always feeling ‘less than’ intellectually until a few years ago when suddenly I just didn’t anymore.  All of a sudden, I simply shifted and I accepted that I was as smart as I needed to be and that I could learn pretty much anything I needed or wanted to learn. Maybe my work with students helped me to see that intelligence is really more about curiosity and lack of fear. Any situation that truly fosters that kind of atmosphere will produce critical thinkers who are open to stretching and growing, not just intellectually, but also emotionally and spiritually. 

As for Mom, I truly don’t believe her words were meant with any malice. As a parent, her natural inclination was to shield her child from pain, which would include failure for undertaking difficult paths in life. I know that feeling with my own girls. I had to quell my own fears when they set out for medical school and law school. I kept my mouth firmly shut, however, lest my fear would spread to them, and, lo and behold, they were all three fine. Not that they didn’t have tough times and difficult choices to make along the way, but, overall, they all did well in their individual ways. Maybe that too helped me to see the life is about putting yourself out there and not being afraid. Or maybe not listening to voices that reflect other people’s fears, which have more to do with their limiting choices than any kind of reality.

So, here I am again, reasserting myself in terms of my hopes and dreams. I want very much to be a person who writes essays, short stories and novels about the very dynamics that I described above, in hopes that by sharing, people can identify and break free from their own internal restrictions and live without fear. Just going for it. Period. And knowing that whatever goals are set, it’s the process NOT the end result that matters. One doesn’t have control over end results, but the process, well, that is a different matter. That just means pushing back the fear and beginning, one day at a time, and feeling just fine. What happens during that time is the important part. “Afterwards” will have to take care of itself – or will take care of itself – based on external factors beyond one’s control.  

Alas, I believe with these thoughts in mind, I can begin again. 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kelly Wise says:

    Len, I am so glad to be reading your writing again! And these words resonate so strongly for me right now, I thank you for putting them on the page(s).

    1. Thank you, Kelly. I was hoping my “confessional” would ring true for some of my writing friends. I appreciate you letting me know. Sometimes it is tough to be be honest on the page. My best to you! 🧡

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