“I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection”
Stop and contemplate this for a moment. The more I think about this phrase the more I love it. It’s also really relevant right now.
This has been a somewhat tumultuous semester thus far, and allowing grace for myself has been difficult. Those of you who know me are aware that I hold myself to a (often unrealistically) high standard when it comes to academics, and other commitments that I have made as well. It is also difficult for me to admit that I am incapable of doing something without outside help. To make life even more complicated, I have a really hard time taking a step back when I’ve let myself become over committed. Did I also mention that I love having a long term plan in place? As you can see, quite the laundry list of issues.
At the beginning of the term I knew that life was going to be pretty crazy with all the commitments I had made, so I decided to proactively set up weekly counseling sessions for myself through my school. For some reason it seems like going to counseling is this taboo in our culture, which I am pretty positive goes back to the thing where we’re a super independent society as a whole. As you may recall, I am also guilty of the over-independence thing. Still, my line of reasoning was that these sessions would be a chance for me to vent about the stupid day-to-day things of life if nothing else.
You may want to know why life was going to be so crazy (you may already know if you’ve kept up with the blog thus far), so I’ll explain. This year I’m taking a full course load (plus one extra class) every term, working as a Resident Assistant, trying to determine my responsibilities as the president of a club on campus, and navigating this thing called a “relationship”.
Let me tell you: the first month was rough. Settling in to a new routine is always a bit difficult at first, especially when you begin adding entirely unfamiliar patterns. The first struggle I recognized in my life was a work/life balance. As an RA, you are always working. Now, you have your set responsibilities and duties that are scheduled, but you never STOP being an RA. If someone needs you, you are there for them. It’s kind of like parenting (I know, parenting is way more difficult and such, it’s simply a comparison). Can you draw a line? As president of this club I was working on emails in the middle of the night and constantly thinking of something else that needed to be done or someone else who I needed to talk to. Was this really what I had been expecting? The whole relationship thing is totally new to me, how does that work, what are reasonable expectations, and how does it work in a setting like this where my home is my work? So is a work/life balance possible? (Are you tearing your hair out yet from all these questions?)
Counseling has been enormously helpful. The most basic thing it’s done is allow me is to be transparent about the fact that I need help, and it’s ok to ask for it. It has also been eye opening to see some the specific areas I struggle, and to begin looking at ways to correct these distorted thoughts. I’ve also been able to pick up some tools for dealing with stress and figuring out how to get to the bottom of my worry to discover what is really bothering me. So often the surface level things that we worry about are not the real issue, and once we are aware of that it is possible to begin taking that worry and handling it appropriately. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing how I talk to myself. Other times it requires some serious prayer and reflection, looking back at my true identity in Christ and knowing that these thoughts are lies with no foundation and no bearing on my security and worth.
I also went and talked to one of the staff members here at school who is a really awesome lady and who has a great work/life balance. We were able to have a great conversation and delve a little bit into what that could possibly look like for me, especially in the relationship area. The idea of setting up boundaries to protect our time together and not allowing anything to touch that was probably one of the most helpful things that she pointed out to me. We were also able to just have a good conversation and get to know each other a bit better, which I had been wanting to do for a while, so that was really nice.
When it came down to it, it was simply too much of a time commitment to remain in the position of club president. The amount of time required to effectively manage the group was more than I could allocate due to my commitment as a student, and secondarily as an RA. It was not fair to myself or anyone in the club to continue trying to do things when the realistic amount of work I could put into it was not going to be match the necessary amount of work. Stepping down was an extremely difficult decision, but I think the correct one. Admitting that I was incapable of doing this job was almost physically painful, but once it had been done it was so freeing!
Finally, you know that long term plan thing? You know how “the plan” was for me to graduate with an International Hotel & Tourism Management degree after spending a term in Italy? That’s not the plan anymore. The main campus of the university decided that they were no longer going to offer this program, and rather than phasing it out, this year is the last year that students will be able to complete the program. For many reasons I am unable to go to Italy this spring. The end result being that I am back to being a Hotel & Lodging Management major, and I will not be going abroad. Just reading the above sentences you may not get the feel for how heart rending this news was, but I will admit to being completely thrown for a loop.
I thought this was the path God had laid out for me for the next two years, I had some semblance of stability. Clearly, that’s not the case. I’ll be real with you: I’m not entirely sure what the lesson is in all this. I haven’t been able to figure out why this is happening, or if there’s some sort of grand lesson to be learned about it. Maybe stupid things just happen sometime. Maybe my life is going to take a dramatic turn in an entirely different direction. I don’t know. All I know right now is that I’ve readjusted my class schedule for the next couple years. There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life and I would absolutely appreciate prayers for peace while the dust settles.
In all of this, some lessons have been learned. Boundaries are healthy. Saying no is ok. Taking time out to get away for a little while is a good thing. Maybe it sounds weird to say, but sometimes being selfish is ok. You have to take care of yourself, or you won’t be able to take care of the things and people that really matter. Having priorities is important, it enables you to make decisions about how to divide your time and determine your level of commitment. But the learning isn’t over yet, so I’m afraid I can’t leave you with a pretty package tied up with a bow. I am a work in progress and will be until the day I die. I am looking forward to seeing what the next step will be and what direction it will take me, but I know that in the mean time I will not be perfect. Therefore, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection”.
As always, if you have any questions or comments just let me know 🙂