Friday, October 5, 2012

Freedom from Perfectionism (or, Why I am Okay With Just Making It Thru Macroeconomics)

When I first started Cegep last fall, I was pretty obsessed with doing well.  I fretted and frowned over the history exams until Grace was driven to distraction.  I got 96% on the first exam, and after the initial "WOOT!", I sank under the weight of raised expectations.  The next exam netted me a 98%, and the last was a perfect 100%.  I was thrilled.  And humbled.  Because all my fretting did nothing to help me accomplish these achievements.  In fact, I simply succeeded in making myself, and my family, miserable.

This semester, I am enrolled in four classes, and only one of them plays to my strengths.  Yes, it's a history class.  The rest; yoga, geography and macroeconomics, are difficult for me.  Especially macroeconomics.  My teacher, Faisal, is literally speaking a different language than mine, and it's not just because he is from Bangladesh.  I don't get the language of economics.  Learning how to figure out the GDP, nominal GDP, real GDP, interest rates, nominal interest rates, real interest rates, GDP deflators...I just keep thinking that I have it written down in my notes *and so it must be true* that Stats Canada keeps track of all of these numbers.  So, what's wrong with just checking them out there?

Alas, no matter how reluctant, I must learn these things.  Or at least enough of them to provide a passing grade in this class.  And that is all that I am aiming for.  And I am okay with that.

It helps that I had a history test yesterday that I feel really good about.  It also helps that I have begun my new job and am pretty sure I am getting to work with the neatest kids around.  Every day I walk home from work smiling.  Exhausted, but smiling. 

And it helps that I believe that accepting our areas of mediocrity is a valuable life skill.  Yes, I believe in excelling in the areas that I am meant to excel in.  And if I pay attention, I see that in my life, my areas of excelling make sense in the light of my passions, skills and experience.  In the same way, my areas of mediocrity make sense in the light of my...well...mediocrity.  The obvious fact is that it is sheer pride in me that wants to excel, not just in what I am gifted for, but what you are gifted for as well.  Not only does that pride make me a miserable perfectionist if I let it, it also makes me a lousy friend.

Most men I talk to light up when they hear the subjects I am taking this semester.  When I grumble that there isn't a humanities or English class in the mix, they go pale and shaky.  Grace's friend, Meagan, just "gets" economics.  I admire people who have different gifts than I do.  At the same time, I am happy with the gifts that I have.

I know I have to pass this class.  Failure is not an option. But, I have to be honest.  Mediocrity is an option. That doesn't mean I won't get anything out of it.  Maybe when my dad talks about the financial world of investments and stuff like that, I'll know a bit more about what he is referring to.  Reading the newspaper may make a bit more sense.  And when it comes to evaluating political platforms, maybe I'll understand a little bit about the economic plans being presented.   A bit.  Which is more than I understand now.  And in the world of acceptable mediocrity, a bit is enough.

Besides, nobody likes a know-it-all.  Thankfully, that's one thing I won't ever have to worry about.

So, that's good.

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