Today I got a lower mark than I expected for a hymn-writing assignment… and went kind of insane.
Immediately upon scrolling to the end of the paper, I raged up and refused to read the comments. I then had an angry text exchange with a friend, using words like “subjective” in all caps, which gave me a thrill of ‘I was robbed’ adrenaline that only felt like feeling better for the briefest moment.
Completely distracted from the reflection I was attempting for another assignment, I proceeded to eat 2 handfuls of smarties and Facebook stalk the marker while feeling extremely sorry for myself. I reminded myself stroppily of why I deserved to be annoyed: I can write. I worked hard. It’s singable. It provokes a heart reaction. In summation: this was a travesty!
Next, I had 40 minutes of kickboxing scheduled. I kicked. I boxed. I gritted my teeth. Admired a sunset, consumed water… All to the steady beat of my indignant heart.
Then I came back to my room and read the comments. And you known what? They were so kind. Complementary and helpful. A couple of small suggestions and an apologetic assertion about needing to engage with a lot more secondary literature. I managed to rage up at that for a minute, but it was only half-hearted. Mostly I started to feel something else, a creeping, small feeling.
Shame. This crazy capital-letter, chocolate consuming, kickboxing rage was mine. Today. Only a few hours ago. What the heck?
Somehow, in my mind, I deserved a better mark. I deserved it because this was a creative writing assignment, and I take pride. Far too much. Apparently I’ve been listening carefully and cataloguing kind comments, because it was they that rose up in my mind to defend me, words I didn’t know I’d memorised lining up like soldiers to fight a nameless foe. All those people weren’t wrong! Don’t you know who I am? Gulp. So much self in that righteous.
And I hand out platitudes to my friends about being so much more than one person thinks of them, or one day of being a less-than-desirable version of themselves shows. But apparently, I do it from amongst a scaffolding of compliments and sureties built on the shakiest slab. Interlocked human hands holding up my ego. It can only be a good thing when they break apart.
It’s worth noting 2 things before I finish.
The first is that in reality, the mark was fine. Please don’t feel bad because I don’t deserve it. The truth is, I expected to dazzle. I expected gushing from the marker and maybe the suggestion of a career in song writing. Nice to keep those expectations realistic girl! There is no part of me that doesn’t know how very much better this is, despite the sting.
The second is that I am conscious of tritely ending with some kind of promise to reform, but I can’t pretend I will. Life doesn’t work that way, neat lessons resolved by the end of the blogpost. Truth is I am sinful, proud and self righteous and I long not to be but it’s going to take a lot of prayer.
A few hours later, I am happy, thankful and completely calm, including about the mark. But my inside pride is wounded and I don’t want you to know. So, for honesty’s sake, I thought that you should.
“Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”