Christina Ruotolo

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Have You Ever?

Have you ever been told that you would never be able to do a particular job, task, or meet a goal? Was it because you were told you just weren't good enough? Was it because you were told that you were not smart enough to accomplish the goal? Were you told that it was because of your illness or were you told this because they knew you would end up doing the task better than them?

In Sixth grade math class at the private Catholic school I attended, I accidentally put too many 0's past the decimal place. My teacher marched me out of class down to the fourth grade math class, where she stood me in the front of class and proceeded to tell them I was stupid. Yes, that actually happened. To this day, math has been a struggle and everytime I get frustrated, I just think back to that time in math class when I was told I was stupid and I get mad. I want to get even. I want to prove to them that I am smart.

In eleventh grade English, I was told by the teacher, that I would never be a good writer, that I would never be good at English and that I should just stop now. Yes, this happened too and so once again I set out on another journey to prove them wrong. I went to college and graduated with a degree in English Literature. I wanted to wave that flag in her face like a proud six-year-old.

I started to do whatever people said. I did jobs with 150% vigor and worked multiple tasks to show that I can handle it, that I can do it no matter if two chronic illnesses were stamped on my forehead. I never said no. I always said yes to working any event, or being a volunteer in my community. I was not in just one community group, I was in three and on the board in one of them. I worked walks, political events, fed the hungry, raised money for cancer, diabetes, and did whatever was asked of me.

My problem is, I go to the extreme proving people wrong. I decided that one college degree was not good enough, so I got four. Sometimes when people ask me why I have so many, I am truthfully telling them that I love school and I love writing and why not get four degrees. But, there is this small place in me that after all these years, I can confess to and that is sometimes I do things because people tell me I can't do them.

I was able to pass a math class, with a good teacher and a tutor. I went to college and succeeded and I am now in Graduate school. I have two chronic illnesses and climbed a huge ass mountain. Day-after-day, I am reminded that there are some things I can't do no matter what and I get mad and there I go again trying to prove to people I can do what they say I can't.

This past week, certain things were said to me about things that I can't do, or were advised that I should not do and that they had no place to even say I can't do. I wanted to prove them wrong. I wanted to duel them right there, pull out my sword and fight to the death. But, I just listened and drew back my advancement for a fight. I knew that I would not win that battle.

After mulling over the conversation in my head a hundred times, I realized something profound, that I should have relaized a long time ago. Life is filled with obstacles and boundaries. They affect your personal life, your job and in our world as a whole and they will be an ever present reminder that we are human. Humans are not perfect, we make mistakes. We put too may 0's past the decimal place and we fight to feel we are worth something and not worthless. This is not wrong to think about.

Some people, like me suck at math. Some people can't climb mountains, some people with IBS or Fibromyalgia can't enjoy vacations, some people are insecure and that is ok. I will be ok. You will be ok. I have to look at each obstacle in life as a building block, a baby step toward something greater and I don't have to overcome those obstacles for a boss, a lover or even a friend. I have to overcome obstacles for ME and me only. I can't keep worrying that you will look at me and be mad that I did not do something you thought that I should know how to do, or something that I should already know how to do.

I will live each day for me, and not try to prove to you that I have to do it this way. If I can't do something, that's ok. I just can say no, I can't do that or no, I don't want to do that and that should be all I need to get through life's obstacles. I will stop trying to prove to people that I can do things. If you tell me I can't do something or I know I can't do something, that's ok.

Reality is realizing that no matter what, life happens and there is no need to go to the extreme to tell the world you can accomplish something. Today I was sick, my Fibromyalgia the culprit and I couldn't do a damn thing about it but sit lifeless on the bed or couch. I was not mad anymore. I realized this is my life and I no longer have to prove anything.

Sometimes you will not be able to pass the test, meet the goal or accomplish the task, no matter how much elbow grease you add to it. No one ever said life was easy. Do what you can, enjoy it and learn. I am learning not to not take things personally and if it can't be done, don't swell on it, just move on. Life is to short.


Jill said...

Just found your blog and LOVE it! I don't have IBS, that I know of, but have had bad gallbladder and something I like to call "tender tummy" which has resulted in an emotional dependence on immodium. I'm an archaeologist who sometimes must spend my days far far away from a respectable, or even disrespectable, toilet facility and must also lift heavy things (causing one's midriff to tighten and put pressure on the outflow valve). So I feel your pain.
I'm also dairy free and feel your cheese-dreams pain. Dairy gives me sinus infections that are epic in scale. I too dream of cheese...and mochas made with real milk. Oh well, better to make it through a day without crapping my pants or having horrifying sinus pain.

cruotolo1978 said...

Thanks for the comment Jill. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my struggles.

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