I stared at my computer screen holding back tears of frustration.

Some days I had it, some days I didn’t.

Today I didn’t have it.

“It” was that state of flow, that intense focus that allows words and ideas to travel of their own accord from my mind and through my fingertips to manifest in all their pixelated glory on the screen before me.

Today I felt that other thing–that mental block encasing my thoughts, a mausoleum sealed shut so tight that I had no idea if it contained hidden treasure or just a pile of dust.

I was pretty sure it was a pile of dust.

All I needed to do was write a ten page essay on public/private partnerships and their importance to cybersecurity and securing critical infrastructure, including references to any applicable legal requirements and industry standards.

The deadline was midnight.

“Just get it done,” I said to myself, “one sentence at a time. Something is better than nothing.”

The last essay I had turned in was written when I had “it.” That last essay had me mistakenly believing that I had experienced some kind of breakthrough in my own personal development, and that I would never encounter the mental block again. I achieved an easy A on that assignment–an A I both expected and knew I had rightfully earned.

Today I was hoping for at least a low C.

I wondered if charts were included in the page count.

Despite drinking copious amounts of coffee, nothing other than sheer grit and determination got those words on that page. I can’t even say I wrote the essay, because that implies a fluidity I did not have. It was forced. It was awful. It was ugly.

It was good enough

A C is still a passing grade.

They say that perfection is the enemy of progress, which I agree with, but that’s not where this is going.

When I got my grades back, I had shockingly still earned an A on the paper that felt like such a disaster. All of the pain and lack of confidence I had felt while writing did not reflect my actual capabilities.

My feelings did not match reality.

It’s much more efficient and less painful to both believe in yourself and do great things.

But I think that fails to capture the full reality—the reality is, it is possible to not believe in yourself and to do great things anyway. It is possible to feel like a complete failure, all the while leaving breadcrumbs of success behind you for others to follow. It is possible to know only the losses while still benefitting from hidden gains.

I am not encouraging you to stop believing in yourself, or not to at least try—but I am encouraging you, regardless of how you feel, to look back and count the breadcrumbs you’ve left behind already.

I’m sure there are more than you think.

(C) 2022 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.

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