If I’m so smart, then why is making friends so hard?
If I’m so smart, then why haven’t I been able to get a job since Grad School?
If I’m so smart, then why do I feel like a failure so often?
I did everything right. It was all so easy before I became an adult. The lines were all laid out and everything was perfectly presented with instructions.
1. Get good grades so you can go to college. Check. All I had to do was give the teacher what they wanted, even if it was boring or I knew it was stupid I did it anyway…most of the time. I wasn’t one of those gifted kids who had a hard time in school and I wasn’t one of the ones who got straight A’s either (because that only invited bullies and I was already strange enough). I knew just how much I needed to participate in order to keep the adults happy…practically drowning in societal expectations of what a good girl should be.
2. Choose a good college. Check. I chose a State school. The school nearest to me with the best stats instead of applying for the ivy leagues…honestly I was afraid that if I ended up getting accepted by some freak chance then everyone there would realize that I was a total poser and not nearly smart enough, so I didn’t even try. I specifically chose only one school. I had no back up because I knew there was no chance that I wouldn’t get in. I didn’t get excited or happy when I got my acceptance letter, I knew it was coming. My test scores were well above the average for the school, I was in the top 10% of my class, I was a double minority… the odds were in my favor.
3. Graduate with a good GPA. Check. Yeah, sure I officially changed my major 7 times in my first two years, but my overall GPA was still above average…no where near my best but good enough for what I thought were still mostly easy classes. The classes were so easy that I probably should have had higher grades but I didn’t because the social stuff was hard on me, really hard on me. I still hadn’t figured out how to “apply” myself, even if that had been on every single report card since kindergarten!
4. Go to Graduate school. Check. Okay, maybe this is where I messed up. I will admit that I did not study for my GRE’s. I was in the middle of a really bad break up and rebound and had completely forgotten about the test until my computer alarm went off the night before. My scores were decent… right around average and for my frame of mind, fairly good. My parents were really worried about my mental health and current boyfriend/fiancé (they refused to call him that) so they coerced me into staying with them in Japan under military orders for a few months. I went, we broke up and in order to stay on the island I needed to be a full time student… long story short, within a week I was enrolled and accepted into a graduate degree program that was offered on base as a military extension (full time professors were brought on island and everything). This extension challenged me more than any other set of coursework had. I got to know my professors and I challenged them with my thoughts (which were, for the first time, welcomed) and the exchange of ideas that were held with current military officers, who brought in professional points of view, were tantalizing. I looked forward to every single class and assignment.
5. Get your first real job. Check. Full time grad program and a full time Middle school teacher. It was a very busy year and I loved every minute of it. Those 7th and 8th graders challenged me to think more than any professor ever had. This was when I knew for sure that I would always want to teach. I was challenged with teaching Social Studies, Bible and English at an International Christian School to a mixture of nationalities, starting two weeks after school had started and with curricula that I had used in middle school myself (ancient!)… and I thrived off of the challenge.
Then I got married and had kids. I was happy, excited, and completely ready for everything life would through at me!
Then it all stopped. All of a sudden social stuff was being thrown at me, not work challenges or school deadlines. Things like making new friends as an adult and deployments. I kept trying to find my way back. Every application was denied, either for employment or studies. Every single door slammed in my face. Making friends became harder but I started finding other misfits along the way. Which is fine and good but what about my goals and dreams.
I still didn’t really fit in with the other wives, I couldn’t find a job and the schools rejected me when they heard that I had children. Apparently, “you can’t really balance four children and this kind of program.” Yes, in this day and age I was actually told this by two professors at two leading universities, to my face: both meant it kindly, …I’m sure. Here I was, too well educated to get a job and watching people I knew with less education getting hired on the spot while I was told that I was over qualified.
I’m over qualified for an Internship or entry level position, but don’t have enough experience for a higher level job. I am qualified for an adjunct but competing against people who were more qualified, so not really qualified. In order to fix that dilema I apply for grad school, only to be told I have too many children …and now I can’t even get an online tutoring job. I suppose I could always create my own business but that’s not my point.
For eight years I have been rejected for every single application I’ve turned in.
I don’t know if this is a commentary on being gifted or just being a woman with children, who chose to stay home for the early years. I don’t know if all these doors slam in my face because my “calling” (please imagine those are full on air quotes because if there was a sarcasm font available it would be used here!) is to “just” be a stay at home and homeschooling mom. I know these are hard jobs, I love them both, but I really thought I could do more…isn’t that what we tell our daughters? “You can do anything!” Can I, really? It sure doesn’t feel like it.
I don’t know why I go through this, but I do know that every single rejection feels like a stake through the heart. With every hit it’s as if I’m being told that I am not smart enough, social enough or just plain good enough. Like they’ve finally found me out and kicked me out of the group. After years of hiding among the smart kids, the smart police have caught up with me and the imposter has been found.
The last rejection was harder than the others, I had a gut feeling it wouldn’t work out but at the same time I was perfectly qualified for it so I just sat there and cried.
If I’m so smart, then why?
I know things happen for a reason. I know doors shut and windows open, I know its all about timing and I’m still young… blah, blah, blah… maybe my expectations were just set too high.
Why do we tell kids that life is like a formula? Life is not an If, Then statement… I don’t live in an Excel sheet or the Matrix. There is no logic out here and to my logical mind If I did A, B, and C then D should occur. Well D didn’t occur, R did and I had not planned for it. R is wonderful. It’s a crazy beautiful life filled with random everyday blessings (ok that made me laugh!) but it is not what I had planned and right now I’m mourning the loss of D. I’ll be ok tomorrow and heck, I may even rise with an idea or two of my own… maybe even think of myself as witty or maybe not.
So, while the sirens scream and the search for the located imposter continues I will just sit here in my very own pity party, analyzing all the why’s possible because that’s what I do and that is how I cope with disappointment. Just in case your looking too,you’ll find me with a book or a pencil and if you need more help…
Here I’ll even hold up a sign.