Really? No Kidding!

I read today that Albert Einstein’s IQ was 160.  Impossible, I thought.  Why?  Because the last time my IQ was tested, it was 162.  Two points HIGHER than Albert Einstein’s.

I’m pathetic.

What do I have to show for my precious 2 points?  A degree in English, after failing at a degree in music and a degree in computer science.  I haven’t discovered a cure for anything or developed a startling theory or anything that can measure up to Einstein.

If you were a follower of my last blog, Everything but the Kitchen Sink, you’ll recall my post on “How will you measure this year in your life?”  The last paragraph went like this:

I’ve wasted a lot of mine and I haven’t had a year in my life worth measuring.  That changes here, that changes now.  My sister gave me a wonderful gift in showing me how to live.  It took me a while to get it, but “get it” I do.  This birthday year–and forevermore–will be a year to measure.  I’m going to be silly more.  Play the piano more often.  Write like I’ve got a million dollar book contract.  Dance every day.  Sing like I don’t care who hears.  Say “yes” more.  Say “no” more.  Lose 40 more pounds and start dressing like the bohemian that I am.  I might write a play.  Learn the dulcimer Ginger gave me.  Study my Bible more.  Trust religion less.  Pray without ceasing.  Eat cake “just because.”  Write my own fabulous funeral.  Hug more often.  Tell family and friends how much I love them.  This and more is how I will measure my 525 thousand 6 hundred minutes.”

And what have I done?  I’m praying.  My family and friends know how much I love them.  That’s it.  Nothing else.  That’s what I’ve done with my precious two points.

Don’t worry.  I’m not having a pity party and I’m not falling into a depression.  It’s just that I look at Einstein and what he did with his life.  Then I look at me and what I’ve not done with mine, even though I’m technically smarter than he is.  (Not that I believe that for a second.)  What’s the difference?  What happened to me?

I don’t need two extra points on an IQ test to answer that question.  I tend to sabotage myself.  “I can’t do it.  I’m not smart enough.  It’s too hard.  I could never learn that.”  I tend to believe negative comments other people say to me.  “You look horrible in photographs.  Your writing is trite.”  I feel there’s just no use in trying.  Mostly, though, I’m afraid.

Fear can save your life, but it can also be a terrible emotion, almost as terrible as hate.  Fear keeps me from living my life to the fullest.  I’m very afraid of water.  I can’t sit in a tub of water.  I can’t go in a swimming pool.  I back into the shower when I bathe.  I’m afraid of the dark, too.  I also try to never, ever let my arm or leg hang over the side of the bed because I know–I KNOW–there’s some THING under there that’s going to reach up and grab me.  I will never get over these fears.  I have no doubt at all about that.  But the fear that someone won’t like what I write?  That someone will tell me I look ugly in a picture?  That someone will say, “you can’t do that, you’re not that smart”?  Why do I even pay attention to any of that?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet “Little Debby”.  No, this isn’t the “Debbie” famous for those scrumptious “Little Debbie Cakes.”  This is the “Little Debby” that sits alone, self-protected, enclosed in a tall, brick tower inside the deepest part of my heart where no one can see her or hurt her.  But she’s also the “Little Debby” who voices the doubts in my mind, who provides the evidence that fuel the sabotage and fear.  You all have your own “Little Debby.”  The inner voice that says you’re too stupid, you’re too ugly and worthless and no one cares about you, so why should you care about yourself.

But failure is as failure does, and tonight I’m here to set the record straight with myself.  Yes, I have a degree in English with a concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Women’s Studies.  While getting that degree, I won several writing competitions and I’ve been published a few times in anthologies since.  I’ve also won a poetry competition in which there were over a thousand entries.  I failed at getting the music degree because I was barely 17 years old when I went away to college (on both music and academic scholarships, I might add) and I had no guidance on what to expect and what to do.  None.  My mom had a high school diploma and my dad quit school in the 8th grade.  They had no idea what to tell me or how to help me.  I was too young, both age-wise and emotionally, to go away on my own.  A few years later, after I was working full time, I went back to school for a degree in computer science.  I was two classes away from getting the degree when I changed my major to English.  I absolutely hated computer science and I just couldn’t study it for one more minute.  When I began studying literature and writing, it was like I had come home for the first time and that one stuck with me.  So now I can toss those failures out the window.  I hope they get hit by a car!

All of the other failures in my life?  The things I haven’t written, the things I’ve written poorly, the oceans I haven’t swam in, not flying in a plane until I was 47 because I was too scared?  All of those things–ALL OF THEM AND MORE–they’re out the window, too, because I deserve to treat myself better.  I deserve to give myself the same breaks and permissions to screw up that I give everyone else in my life. Easy to say, not so easy to do, but it’s a start.

This time, I’m not going to write a laundry list of how I’ll measure this coming 60th year in my life.  I’m going to say simply this:  I’ll try to do better and I’ll try really hard. I promise.

Just one more thing before I go: my IQ is higher than Stephen Hawking’s, too! Ta-da!