I just move through life. Just like that. It’s like I have no total control of it. I can’t even figure out my next move. I can plan and wish. I used to pray too, a long time ago and ask for a good life, like some of my friends. I wanted to be as lucky as some of them. To have the right parents and right siblings or even right friends felt magical, like how to live. Many were making strides towards their goals with great results. I however seemed to be setting goals and having no plans on how to accomplish them. Typical me! I never have a plan.
Sometimes the pressure can be overwhelmingly strong and depressing. And sometimes it’s just unrealistic. Mistakes aren’t allowed to happen. I was taught making mistakes means I will never redeem myself. Many of my mistakes as a young woman stuck with me and followed me into udulthood. I remember talking to a cousin that I hadn’t seen in over fifteen years, yet she thought I was the same person I was when I was a teenager.
To make mistakes even as a child and be punished for everything led me into believing my worth meant nothing. When I couldn’t do math at the age of 6, my uncle told me I will be nothing if I couldn’t memorise the times table. The teachers beat my buttock for nothing, I might add because I never learned what I didn’t want to learn. I was scared of failing for the first time and I had to get it right or die. It seemed as if that was the only way to do it. There were corrections to be done, sure and furthermore without guidance. Do you remember the teacher writing “correction” on your book without telling you how to do it? I do. Eventually, I would just take my classmates books and copy everything. If life would be that easy, I would copy your amazing lives. I needed to prove my worth right as a child all the time. Exhausting!
I became envious. Envious of my little friends who go it right the first time and who got it right the second time. They redeemed themselves. For people like me, who never got it right the first time or the tenth time, the die was cast.
I feel my childhood was robbed. Robbed because I wasn’t allowed to be a child. And right now I am not being allowed to be a woman. I am always supposed to know better by virtue of being a woman. I am not allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. And if I do, I am supposed to come out alive, survive the storm. I just can’t cry for help!
We glorify survival more than the process of survival. Women are strong they say, forgetting we can’t be strong without being weak and if we crumble in weakness we need a helping hand. Instead, we are met with judgement and shame. Survivors are praised for coming out alive, yet nobody wants to know how many sleepless nights swept by us, how many gallons of tears were let free and how many times, giving up was the only reasonable choice left. Failing is unpleasant but it’s not the end. And trying to hold on at the last straw isn’t for all of us! Sometimes, we just want to lay still and have the waves wash us ashore.
Acknowledging our limitations is not cowardice as cliché says.
Competition tires me. I was taught early to be the best, doing otherwise was punishable. So, I strived just to be the best. Aye, some of us will never be the best. It took me 30 years to realize that. Setting myself up for competitive situations that weren’t really mine is tiring.
For many a woman, this has turned us into people triapsing through life dodging and staying afloat trying not to drown. When we get no help or guidance on how to move, we make even the most obvious mistakes that could cause us more than life itself. We make our mothers’ mistakes. Mistakes we shouldn’t have to make. We continue to make these mistakes even as we mature late into our fifties. We still compete and dread failing.
We have to go back. We have to take steps back from where we came from and if we can’t we have to allow ourselves to be human and relearn. Maybe then, only then, can we really learn from our mistakes and do better for ourselves.
Sometimes neglected children grow into needy adults. We seek what we never had. We jump through every mountain to view the other side only to realise the lee side is just like the side we are standing on. We seek little children in our adult souls. We want to get it right the first time and impress ourselves and others. To feel worthy of ourselves through the eyes of others. We almost always seek in the wrong places. In places where nothing resides. We seek things in people who have nothing to give, in jobs that exhaust us, in marriages and friendships that steal our survival and give us nothing in return.
Allow yourself to make mistakes but also allow yourself to learn from them. Allow yourself to fail and survive but also allow yourself to stop fighting. Some mistakes are better off not repeated. Some struggles are better off watched from a distance. And some survivals need a hand. Ask for help!
So what if you are not like them? So what?