- Milk (I don’t drink milk.)
- Bread (I tell myself I don’t eat bread Mondays-Fridays.)
- Toilet paper (Where does it go?)
- Stop using the word “thing(s)” in blog post titles (Writing 101, Ashley.)
Of course, there are more substantial things on this list, but every time I have a moment of remembering the important ones, I flip to the back of a random work notebook and scribble down that Something Substantial but then decide to rip it out. I can’t possibly deal with the weight of this brick of a page right now. Then, what to do with a loose piece of paper inked with a bleeding heart? So I fold it back up and stick it back in the notebook filled with to-do lists (things I never feel much like to-doing), praying it will nevereverever find the eyes of a stranger. Or worse, someone who knows my middle name.
As a result of writing this instead of to-doing, a little voice in my head whispers that I am a failure. (This is bigger than the use of the “I’m” contraction.) I’ve been learning the power of “I am” statements, so I self-correct this gnat in my head and try to swat it away. I might be failing, but I am not a failure.
I failed one class at my liberal arts college. It was about trees. The honors science class was so complex for my wandering literary brain that I can’t even remember the actual title of the course. All I know is it was the first time I saw an F on a quiz, or anything for that matter. I remember trying to figure out how to cheat, but I didn’t even know how to do that. The prof asked me to stay after and advised that I drop the course, even though it would stamp a big wide W on my transcript because I had missed the deadline to drop without penalty.
Surely, that gnat came around that day to buzz that I was a failure. Because anyone who fails a class about trees will never amount to anything in this green world.
And so it goes, life went on with that W. I graduated with honors, still. I got a job, and another, and another. (I won’t bore you with the details.) But, I will say, I am very envious of friends with clear and concrete career paths. Us English majors have a rough road, with all these bosses ganging up together, wanting data-driven results over beautiful words that change lives. We live in a world that keeps forgetting to remember the power of words.
I have a best friend who has her PhD in biostatistics. (I feel confident I’m botching the actual degree title.) To me, it doesn’t get much clearer than that. Yes, I do realize that it is a lie to believe that 1 +2 = 3, and that every biostatistician stays perfectly content in the 3-world forever. But right now, it sounds like a glamorous life to me, as I’m off in the corner nursing my wounds as the poor soul who fell in love with words.
Let me tell you a story about worth, because that’s what I set out to do here. Because one of the Something Substantials that I keep forgetting to remember is that I am worth fighting for. I have written it on mirrors in bathrooms. I have written essays about having written it on mirrors in bathrooms. And yet, it vanishes. Nowhere to be found.
So, this tree class, the one that I failed. Well, it’s nothing like the failure of a relationship. Or, is it everything like it? Recently, I withdrew from a relationship beyond the deadline to drop it without penalty. Maybe someone advised me too late, or maybe not. Turns out I have a stubborn soul. (See how I ditched the “I am…” On a Baby Bird Learning to Fly, I suppose.)
And, good news, life is still going on, even with that W. Especially with. It gives me more to scribble about, more to forget, more to remember.
Can I help you remember the same today?
- You are not a failure.
- You are worth fighting for.
- You can use the word “thing(s)” as many times as your heart desires, even when you forget to remember to pull out that thing called a thesaurus filled with all the powerful words up for grabs in our green world.