This Isn’t Easy, And That’s Okay


Bethany Olsen -Breathe4

“We define for ourselves who we are and what we stand for.”

 These words were spoken the first night of my MBA program four weeks ago. Don’t they sound collegiate and inspirational, like the perfect Pinterest pin? Despite the cheese factor, the words have been stuck in my head ever since.

I’m not sure they stuck with me for the right reasons. I presume the speaker intended to remind us that we control our destinies (to a certain extent) and can change the world with our forthcoming business acumen. But that’s not why it resonated with me. Simply put, they stuck because they remind me to keep breathing deeply, in and out, day after day.

I chose to go back to school during a time of high stress with my family. It’s also a time where I’m thrashing about, working to define my life as a single, career woman in her thirties. The chance to continue my education is an amazing gift and I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity. I read I Am Malala right before my program started, and through her writing I was accidentally yet delightfully inspired by the gift that education is.

But I have a teensy, tiny, little ol’ problem: a compulsive need for absolute perfection. I want to be the person nailing not only every school assignment, but all other parts of my life as well. It’s not exactly, shall we say, “reasonable” when I’m juggling this many balls. Instead, ramping up the intensity of life is turning me into an oozing mess of defensiveness. Yup, that’s right. It only took four weeks.

I’ve got a hamster wheel in my head which is the spinning combination of fear (am I good enough?), exhaustion (why can’t I get a good night of sleep?!), and doubt.

I need someone to tell me I’m doing the best I can and that’s enough for today.

I want to hide, because this is like an eternally horrible hair day, and yet I also really, really want to be seen.

I don’t want to admit that I need help sometimes. I don’t want to drag my butt to yoga class, aka 90 minutes of forced breathing exercises. I want to be able to say, “I’ve got this one y’all, but thanks.”

We define for ourselves who we are and what we stand for. 

The words flit through my head.

I pick up the phone, and call a friend. I sign up for that yoga class. I pull out my blanket and curl up with a show that will make me laugh.

I begin again.