Growth Mind-set

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I started this blog a week ago and I already feel paralyzed. There are so many talented writers out there and, though I love to write, I can’t help but twist my hands with jealousy when I see others' elegant sentences slip down my computer screen.

I stumbled across this article in the Atlantic last week, have you seen it? It’s called “Why Writers are the Worst Procrastinators.” It details a phenomenon that I am all too familiar with: the terror of being unmasked as a fraud. The sinking feeling that, maybe I’m not good with words after all. The Eeyore inside, flicking his tail, “Oh well. I guess I won’t even try.”

The article details research on failure and makes a distinction between people who have a fixed mind-set, that is, belief that success is dependent on talent (the Eeyores), versus the people who have a growth mind-set, the ones who are enthralled by the things they find difficult and, instead of worrying about failure, plunge in because they know they will learn something in the process (those Little Engines that Could).

The fact that there are people out there who naturally are enthralled by difficulty kills me. I, on the other hand, might mutter, “I think I can” one or two times before giving up to make myself a snack.

This morning I was grumbly and short with my daughter. I had stayed up way too late after discovering the blog-hater website, Get Off My Internets. As I read the scathing reviews of some of my regular blog reads, I shrunk downward on the couch. These comments were so harsh, so cruel. It was enough to make any fledgling blogger want to burrow back into the nest where there is no risk of attack by anonymous vultures.

As I got ready for my job, I grumped around while preparing appropriate worksheets and materials for the three tutoring sessions I had this afternoon. I am not a teacher, just another liberal arts educated adult who wants to help struggling kids on the margins (for which I am compensated generously). And I often feel at a total loss for helping my students catch up two and three grade levels in math and reading. Teaching, it turns out, is really hard. And sometimes, I’m not good at it.  But the thing about a job is that you have to go, even if you’re feeling like an absolute fraud while driving to it. Today, just showing up with my hastily planned lessons was enough to help a hard-to-teach 4th grade boy with equivalent fractions. I'll take it.

Every piece on this ol’ blog will not be spellbinding prose, profound, or even remotely good. Strangers will read it and judge my abilities. Even typing that sentence spins me into web of fear and loathing. But I know that, if I never hit “publish," if I never try, I will never grow into a mature writer. And this blog is good accountability (and motivation) to adopt a growth mind-set.

For you readers, thank you. I am honored that you are here, reading my words. And I pledge to show up, to throw off my inner Eeyore as best I can. I can’t promise it will be stellar writing, but I can promise to be honest. At least I’ll keep telling myself, “I think I can.”