I have struggled with bitterness for some time. It's actually consumed me. Consumed my daily train of thought. Consumed every day actions. Consumed my relationships with family and friends. I think the bitterness began when I felt the need to constantly compare myself to others. What others had/are achieving and why did I feel like I was falling behind. People have said what have you to be bitter about? Your healthy, your engaged, you've a business! And then I feel guilty. Guilty for having an emotion such as bitterness.
Since a child, I was an overachiever. If I was to whip out old school reports- they would always be glowing in praise. I couldn't ever settle being just ok when I was young. I had to be good at everything, a high achiever. I always wanted good grades. I always wanted to receive praise. Not even wanting to receive. I CRAVED praise. I loved winning awards- student of the year this...top of the class for this...highest score of a grade etc...! I loved seeing words such as 'enthusiastic', 'bright', 'ambitious' and 'intelligent' next to my name. They were goals.
I suppose my first smack of reality and dissapointment and I kid you not, I still think about was at the beginning of Year 6 in my primary school in London. I loved the idea of being a head girl so badly. I was obsessed with Enid Blyton books and had gotten the idea in my head that if you were a head girl you could go on to do great things- that people would want to work with you. Yep at the tender age of 11, I had began to think about the workforce! I wasn't picked as Head Girl. I wasn't even nominated for it and it stung.
My next encounter was in my final year of secondary school and at Graduation in 2007. Yep 10 mighty years ago. And I didn't win Student of the Year. I wasn't even nominated for student of the year. I was so bitter. I remember sitting in this sports hall with my parents right next to me clapping but biting my tongue so hard to not show the look of disappointment on my face. I spent a long time having a conversation in my own head and comparing the winner to me. I went on about it for ages. I did so much comparison. I did win student of the year two other years previously but still couldn't understand why I was bot nominated that year. It was all I could think about...
My third smack of reality was two years later in my final year in Dance College in Dublin. We were rehearsing a contemporary piece and two of the girls in my year were using paper as a prop. Just some random paper that the office were going to recycle. I just happened to open up the piece of a paper and it was a printing of where everyone in my year had been accepted to in the UK for further training. My name was missing. I don't even know why I was so surprised because of course my name was missing. I didn't get in to one college in the UK. So why would my name be printed? But it stung...it stung so bad. I unashamedly sobbed in college that day in front of everyone. Twenty year old me...wailing. I cried probably every night solidly for about month after that also. I felt like a failure. I was a failure. And I don't think at that time I was happy for anyone else who had achieved. Because I was too bitter and worried about my own failings.
My stubbornness can be best described as a raging bull. Most people would pick themselves up and try again the next year. Not me. I abandon and move on and set my sights on University. NUI Maynooth to do a degree course in Business and Management. Something I had no experience in. I didn't even take business as a subject in my Leaving Cert in school. But I thought I would be good at it and was playing with the idea of opening up my own business when I would graduate so thought it would be useful. I also thought I would sail through it. I was good in Primary school. I was good in Secondary school. I actually didn't even need to try super hard and did really well. Well college is different and while I still ended up with a first, I wasn't top of my class. I didn't possess the skills that have seen some of the graduates of my year excel in work life. Some of these people are working in top companies.
And I suppose the nail in the coffin for me was last year when I was declined twice for a mortgage. I am so fiercely competitive and crave independence that it full on destroyed me. I spent months after that over-analysing everything. Comparing myself to other friends. Friends who had gotten married. Who had got accepted for a mortgage. Who were having kids. And I cried. I cried all the time. God love Evan and my family for putting up with me. I was awful to be around. Cried driving. Cried cleaning. Cried when I went to the toilet. I picked fights. Was more blunter then ever. But more severely grew this rage of bitterness which just began to consume me. I was so angry.
And so I am trying. The awareness of the bitterness is a first step I think right? It's the challenge of not letting it take over is my second step. I don't even like putting it down to as a second step. Because it's on going. It's exists and then it doesn't. The one thing I really do agree with more then ever is the idea of comparison being the thief of joy. There is simply no need for it.
I stumbled upon this writer- Rupi Kaur. And one of my favourite things she has written was this sentence; 'and here you are living despite it all'. Yep I guess I still am living.