"Believe you can and you're halfway there"
- Theodore Roosevelt.
Sometimes it is exhausting seeing everything from the lens of infertility and loss. I read it aloud, and at the same time that Bryce's mom said, "Ooooh, I like that!" he said, "NOPE. Don't like it. Not at all." It seemed confusing that such an inspirational saying would rub us the wrong way, but I explained (and received a super hairy eyeball from a nice older lady who was walking through that part of the shop at that time) that it perpetuates the idea that you can BELIEVE yourself into any situation, that if you BELIEVE strong enough, you will always get what you seek. And that is NOT always the case.
But I struggle when I explain these things, because don't I want to teach belief in yourself, perseverance, the value of hard work, etc. etc. etc.? Isn't that counter to what I want to do as a teacher of adolescent people? Nope, it's not.
You could look at that quote and say, "Believe you can and you're halfway there" -- that's not a guarantee that you'll get ALL the way there, that just puts you on the path to getting to the destination. And when I think about it that way it doesn't irk me half as much. If the quote is meant to get your ass off the couch and start doing something you want to do instead of thinking you can't and so never getting started, well then that's a positive message. But if it's saying that pure belief will get you to your goals, well then I do believe that's hooey.
There's a lot of stuff out there about the Law Of Attraction, and putting out into the Universe what you want to get in, trusting that the Universe will reward your belief with what you seek. That you shouldn't put fears and doubt and negativity out there, because that is what will return to you. Someone once said that I should be careful talking about my fear of killers, because of the Law of Attraction. That is some serious balderdash, in my (non-slaughtered) opinion. It reminds me so much of the cult of infertility way of thinking, of the belief that you must be positive at all costs because even a smidge of negativity could impact your egg quality or transfer. I suppose that's great if you are Positive Polly and then you get pregnant, but if you (gasp!) have a negative thought during the process because you've been faced with nothing but disappointment and then it doesn't work, again, was it really because you thought briefly, "What if this doesn't work out this time?" Isn't that just a form of self-torture, designed to put the guilt and the blame solely on your already battered psyche?
Don't get me wrong, I am all for putting positive vibes out into the Universe, and doing good for the sake of doing good, and trying to take a shit sandwich and make it a unique culinary treat. But I get really, really mad when people make it seem that simply putting an intent out there will make it more likely that you will get what you seek. If what you seek is something that you can truly attain with hard work and perseverance, well then that's fine -- you're never going to get work published that you never submit, you're never going to get more fit if you don't go work out, you're never going to meet your goal of reading so many books this summer if every time you go to read you pick up your phone instead.
Conversely though, I could have never believed myself into a biological baby. I suppose I could have stayed in the adoption game longer and believed myself into a baby that way, but I would have also believed myself into a true nervous breakdown and might have made decisions based on wanting a baby that put us into a situation that perhaps we weren't prepared to handle. If I was terminally ill, I could use belief to fight for the treatment and the quality of life that I wanted, and I could decide that I was going to see myself as living with a terminal illness as opposed to dying from one, but it wouldn't likely change the eventual end result.
While recouping from this nasty stomach nonsense I have going on, I decided to do a puzzle. Not just any puzzle, a mini-puzzle, 100 pieces, 6" x 9" when completed, from Acadia National Park. I chose the lighthouse one first (it's a set of two), and it was PERFECT.
I know I've said before that I can't stand puzzles, that I want to like them but my compulsiveness makes it so that I have to finish it all in one sitting if at all possible and it's incredibly hard to leave it, so I spend HOURS and I am largely frustrated most of the time and wishing I had just picked up a book instead. That is all true. But I discovered something recently...
I love SMALL puzzles. Maybe mini ones that are 100 pieces, maybe a big one that's 300, but ones that are JUST CHALLENGING ENOUGH.
I feel like so much in my life is frustrating, and has filled me with frustration, why on EARTH would I do that to myself on purpose? It's also why I hate watching intense movies -- life is intense and stressful enough, why would I purposely want to put my nerves on edge? For FUN?
After I did the lighthouse one, I went on to the next one in the box -- a far more challenging stream-with-rocks scene. It was way more difficult. But, I also knew it was finite. There were only 100 pieces. It was only going to be 6" x 9" when completed. It was JUST THE RIGHT amount of frustration. And I did it, although I finished it this morning since I ran out of time last night:
I was sort of high on this success, and so I decided maybe I would try my 300 piece puzzle that I bought last time I went down to visit my best friend -- this one is a full size puzzle, but the pieces are bigger, and it makes me so happy because the picture is 36 reptiles and amphibians.
I think maybe that was too much puzzling at once though, because I ran into a different kind of frustration -- the coffee table I was doing it on was not quite big enough to hold the whole edge. Also, there was this:
Still, I managed to get the edges done despite certain constraints:
But then it was just all too much.
All of the pieces crashed to the ground and I decided perhaps that was Lucky's way of telling me that I should perhaps try to do something a little more productive since two weeks from today I'll be back at school.
The thing is, frustration is necessary in order to feel accomplished. I like the feeling when you find the right piece and slide it into that spot -- sometimes more if I had to try it in a few different orientations first. If it was TOO easy, it wouldn't feel worthwhile.
These puzzles are perfect though -- hard enough to not be completed in 5 minutes, but not so hard that I'm swearing and wasting half a day but don't feel that I can give it up and go read on the couch because it's not done yet.
It's an enjoyable frustration. Just enough.
In order to accomplish things in life, you need belief and you need frustration. Belief that you can get started in the first place, that this accomplishment is yours to chase. Frustration to make it worth the pursuit, to remind you that the hard work will be worth it. I am all for these things.
But, some accomplishments require more than just belief and the ability to push through frustration. And sometimes, all the belief and perseverance in the world will not get you to the accomplishment you desired, and so you have to do the hard work of rearranging your pursuits. Of saying, "okay, this particular goal isn't going to work out for me, so I need to find a new one." You are still believing that you deserve to push yourself towards a goal. You are still fighting through frustration, but not to a point that doesn't make sense or is unhealthy. And I could argue that the sense of accomplishment is amplified by the fact that you didn't get what you originally sought.