Know thyself

I’m studying for all the wrong reasons.  I know this, yet I bury my head in the sand and pretend I don’t know, pretend that I love it and can’t wait to hold that degree in my hand.

I’m lying.  Truth is I am hating it.

I’m doing it because I need a sense of achievement.  My sense of self worth is inexorably tied into my sense of achievement – I have not achieved anything ergo my self worth is shite.

I am studying so I can say I have got a degree.  The truth is whilst I enjoy absorbing new information very much, I totally abhor the process of studying – the endless readings, the cramming for an exam.  My stress levels just simply do not cope.  And why don’t they cope?  Because unless I am getting a distinction, I don’t feel like I have achieved anything.  A pass, or credit is just not cutting it.  It’s a vicious cycle.

On a rational level, I know this is crazy shit.  There is plenty I have achieved but ask me to list them and I cannot.  Anything that comes naturally to me does not feel like an achievement since I have not had to work for it.  That feels like cheating.  An example of this is my writing.  People tell me that they love my writing but I don’t feel like it is an achievement because I just boot up the computer and write.  I don’t craft, hone or do much else.  I edit a bit.  That is it.  Honestly, what you see here is just me on the page, directly from my heart.

People tell me what a wonderful mum I am, how patient I am with Master J and the behavioural challenges that come with his autism, how well I handled becoming a grandmother way too early (by our standards these days, not by the standards of 50 years ago).  I don’t feel that is an achievement.  I am their mother.  It is my duty to be the best possible mum I can be for them – and there have been times when I have failed miserably.

I am a recovering alcoholic.  There were times when my drinking totally impaired my judgement.  Like the time I let my 16 year old daughter go to another party with her two friends that were in my care with people I did not know.  It didn’t end all that well and those two girls’ parents still think I’m bad news.  I cringe at that night, and am grateful that it didn’t end up much worse.  And I thank the universe for my sobriety today.

I have this need to be seen as a good person, an accomplished person, someone who has some other defining definition than wife and mother.

I am studying for those reasons and those alone.  And they are the wrong reasons.  Unsustainable in every way.

Yet, if I walk away, I am a failure again.  I have yet to finish a course – a string of incomplete courses trails behind me, all attempts to ‘find myself’.

I am stuck.  Unable to move forward.  I have no place.  No niche, no passion, no special gift.  I am just me.  And I have no fucking idea why that is not enough.

Simplicity.  It is something I crave.  I have lived a life of chaos and I am tired.  I want to bow out.  I want some peace of mind.  I want to be okay with just me.  I am tired of trying to validate the very air that I breathe.

I cannot do this any more.

Steven Covey said in his book “The seven habits of highly effective people” that we all have scripts, handed down to us from our upbringing.  If we have been handed a bum script, he says, we have the ability to tear up those scripts.  Our fate is in our hands.

I am really struggling to tear up my script.  Truth is I really like being a wife and mother, but because I was ‘brainy’ at school there was an expectation I should do something academic.  I went to university when I left school, doing science, which I hated and dropped out.  I have systematically dropped out of everything ever since.

Don’t study, you might say.  Well, that is all well and good, but I don’t think I have made it in the parenting arena either.  I avoid Mummy Blogs for this very reason.  I cannot stand those wonderful photos of carefully baked goodies and meticulously decorated party rooms, or the x/52 photographs of their younger ones, highlighting everything I feel I never was.

Honestly, parenting was difficult for me.  I love, nay adore, my children and have a great relationship with them now, but as they were growing up, I found it somewhat draining, largely because I wasn’t really ready to have them when I did.  I had yet to find myself, and now I was being asked to guide another human being.  It was tough.

But my value, my core value, of being a stay at home mum was strong.  I had grown up with that and wanted to do the same for my children.  And subliminally it was expected I would, despite my apparent academic prowess.

Except I sucked at it.  Hated housework, and cooking.  Loved crafting.  Could do that for hours.  Sometimes I forgot to give my kids lunch because of it.  I bench marked myself against my mom who was a domestic goddess.  In my eyes, I failed miserably.

So I started doing courses – to fill a void, to help me find my place in the world, to find something I could say belonged to me and at which I was REALLY good.  Nothing could hold my attention for very long.

Then I found blogging.  I love blogging, but honestly, it’s a competitive world out there this blogging thing.  My god, how competitive it is.  I don’t stand a chance.  No niche, no special talent, so no hope of any financial independence.  But I love writing.  Just to connect.  Just to say to the world, “Look at me, flawed in every way, but I am here, doing my thing. And that is okay.’

I’m desperately trying to tear up the script, to be okay with who I am.  I cannot give up.  I cannot stop until I find my peace.  I just don’t think this studying thing is it.

Signing out,

SHW Signature




12 thoughts on “Know thyself

  1. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I dare you to finish even if that means you finish without a clear run of distinctions. I also had a string of ‘unfinished’ behind me. I think it is not uncommon for the brainy ones. Perfectionism/paralysis. Boredom and rebellion in there too. Academic process can make you teeth grindingly insane. It took me seven years to finish my degree. I stopped, started, stuffed up, deferred twice and wanted to bow out. I didn’t get a perfect academic record. But that didn’t change how smart I am. It didn’t prove or disprove anything about my smarts. But walking across that stage and receiving my degree changed something important for me. It made me a finisher. That seems small but it’s not. It’s a big deal. Getting your degree might, or might not, do the same for you. I know how you feel Sarah. It sucks. And sometimes you just have to suck it up. C’s get degrees. 😉


    1. I am sorry to disappoint you Rach, but I have already withdrawn. I need time allow my true self to emerge, only once I have a handle on that can I dedicate the time and energy to uni (if ever that will happen). Education is really important, but only if you want it, if it has meaning to you and to be honest, it doesn’t to me. Education is about opportunity. As hard as it will be for some to understand, I don’t need it, not right now. I hope that makes sense. I have it available to me should I ever need it, and I will forever be grateful for that, but too many sacrifices are being made right now in order to get it and that is not what I want right now. xx


      1. I do understand, and you don’t disappoint me in any way Sarah. I was just trying to be encouraging… reading it back over I see that it wasn’t the cheerleading comment I intended it to be. Sorry 😦 X


        1. Oh sweetheart do not apologise. Education is important – very important – and I totally took it in the encouraging light it was intended. What you said made perfect sense and at another time it may have been just the kick up the jacksy I needed, but things are different now. My story has changed and I need to embrace that. Thank you for caring enough though, that means so much xx


  2. ….and also (Oh, I feel so passionate about this one!) I LOVE YOUR BLOG! I don’t care whether you fit someone else’s niche or whether you fit a prescription for the perfect mummy, the perfect blogger, the perfect student. To my way of thinking it’s not really about any of that. It’s about how perfectly HONEST you are. I love it. I am addicted to it. Your heart writes the way my heart writes and it makes me feel less alone and less weird. That’s important! I know I am not the only one who feels this way. So studying only matters if it matters to you. Otherwise, be a student of life (I think you are already an ‘A student’ of life) and keep writing. You and your heart write important stuff. So there. 😛


  3. Oh Sarah – seems you’re being so hard on yourself… so demanding… this post really touches my heart.

    Studying is horribly hard! I didn’t finish my attempt at a degree (started in my 30s) either – and I’m actually happy about it. I wanted to gorge on ideas and books and learning, and I did. The achievement was in that, not the awful reading schedule, or a cap and gown.

    There is no failure in realising the path you’re on isn’t the right one. It’s okay to change your mind. I have left jobs, let friendships slide, changed my view of the world, many times. We evolve.

    It’s okay to allow yourself to experience the kindness you lavish on others.

    Competition, the race, the pressure – it can feel so hard and real, but I wonder if it actually is?

    Write from your heart – that’s such a beautiful and rare thing. The ease of it is beautiful. It’s a gift to read such honesty.


    1. Thank you very much Annette. It has been such a difficult year for me and coming to the decision to walk away was not easy, but it is a relief. I am like you in that I gorge on learning, but not on the conformity of a formal education (does that make sense).

      I do believe the competition is very real and, for me, it is very hard – borne out of my own self-imposed lack of self worth. I’m working on that.

      Thanks Annette. xx


  4. Sarah, I’ve started 3 (!) degrees and not finished one of them. It was hd or nothing and the pressure I put myself under made me ill. I now do short courses (mainly weekend ones) that are creative, enjoyable and give me great pleasure. I do what I want for me. Knowing that I probably won’t get paid to work as a seamstress, that’s ok because I’m making myself a damn fine wardrobe! Xxx


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