All my life I’ve wanted to be exceptional. I’ve strived for perfection and excellence in almost every area since I was a small child. In grade school, I only earned A’s. In college, I relished in the fact that I attended one of the top universities in the nation and chose a difficult major. I joined the top sorority, maintained a decent GPA, graduated a semester early, married shortly thereafter, had two beautiful children, earned a Master’s degree while working full-time, and divorced my husband with every bit of dignity I could muster. Even now, as a teacher, I push myself and my students to the limit just to demonstrate that I can do anything short of impossible… not on my own, of course. But with the right help, I most certainly can do it!
Unfortunately, I’ve had this type of zeal in every area of my life… and yes, I do mean unfortunately. I really thought I could do anything until last April when I faced THE most difficult challenge of my life. I shall not blog about it tonight, but I’ll sum it up by saying that my relationship history is ugly. I mean it’s just short of whatever word might be illustrated by a hopeless pit of embarrassment, despair, and bad decision-making. Again, I tried to be exceptional… as in, better than the next woman… as in, I didn’t have to play by the rules to get what or who I wanted. If I was better than the one before me, then why couldn’t I do what (and by what I mean who) I chose?
In retrospect I’ve had two totally different approaches to becoming what I thought was exceptional. Academically, I played by the rules. I applied myself, studied hard, tested well… did what I was required to do and more. With the fellas, I made my own rules. I figured eventually the very next one would be the one that would truly love me forever and ever… because really, that’s what they all say. And why wouldn’t they have loved me? I’m smart, cute, and I cook! What more does a man really need? (Note: I am NOT male-bashing here.)
On my forty-minute commute to work one morning I decided that being exceptional has nothing to do with seeking exceptions. Think about it. Everybody knows that individual who is always looking for a way out. There’s the obnoxious family member that thinks the rules don’t apply. What about the co-worker that expects everyone to come to the rescue when their imminent demise actually does catch up to their foolishness? Picturing anyone yet?
Well, I saw myself. I had no one else to blame for my poor decisions but me. I knew the rules. I had been taught all of the “Thou shalt not’s” and witnessed the result in others just as hard-headed as I was. Yet, because I thought I was exceptional…
So what makes a person truly exceptional? For me, now, being exceptional is understanding the rules and guidelines set before me. If I want to be great, then I can work my magic within the framework and, against all odds, come out on top. When a situation is absolutely impossible, I pray. Honestly, I pray anyway.
What peace of mind I’ve gained in realizing that I’m just not that great! I’m not perfect, and I don’t have to be. And really, life isn’t about me. And rules, they’re just in place to guide me down life’s little paths of impossibilities. As a child, it was right of me to want to be the best. As an adult, it’s best of me to do what’s right.
I’m coming out of krazy, ya’ll. Join me on the ride.