Some days I feel like I need to wear badges that tell people that I'm smart, what I've accomplished, what I read/what I study/what I can do.
You know, like I need to wear my resume pinned to my chest like a kindergartener taking a message from school home to her mom.
I think people look at me and say, "She's loud and funny and doesn't take life seriously." Maybe folks think I'm not focused or driven.
And that pisses me off.
Me? Not driven or competent or smart or dedicated?
Here. Let me pin this to my chest.
I graduated cum laude from a small liberal arts college. I earned degrees in English and theatre. In fact, I was the first theatre arts graduate from my alma mater.
I directed two plays -- a one-act and a full-length. I wrote a senior thesis on playwright-author David Mamet.
I've studied Irish literature and playwrights, poets from the 1700s to the present day, classic American lit, contemporary novelists, the psychology of human sexuality, Math in Modern Culture, journalism, libel & slander, acting, music theory, how to coach novice writers. I did not just dabble in these subjects; I studied them, immersed myself in them.
I helped resurrect my college newspaper and served as editor. At a small liberal arts college, that means I wrote articles, edited other writers' work and laid out the paper. And then I drove it 20 miles to the printer.
I've been a theater and writing teacher for a kids' summer program. I've answered phones, made coffee, babysat, helped real estate agents, sold produce, written press releases, acted in commercials. I've been a development director at a low-income Catholic school -- a job that meant asking for money, motivating volunteers, answering phones, bandaging knees, helping in the lunchroom. I've been an obituary writer, a news reporter, a copy editor, a TV editor, a religion columnist and a jack-of-all-trades in a features department. Now I use all of those skills as a home page editor at a daily newspaper.
I've tried out for "Jeopardy!" I've sung the national anthem at sporting events. I take freelance editing jobs on occasion to make extra money.
I know the "trends" in my field. I know the studies on how people read newspapers (both in print and online), and I read a lot (probably too much) on how people use Twitter and Facebook to get their news.
I don't like being wrong. I hate misspellings. I make a mean batch of from-scratch brownies. I'll kick your ass at trivia. And I'll pray for you each Sunday at Mass.
And you know what's funny? I somehow think it matters what people think of me. Seriously, I care. I care a lot.
I am overly sensitive. I am constantly worrying whether people think I'm doing an outstanding job -- as a mom, as a wife, as a worker, as a friend. I feel like I operate on the defensive almost all of the time. I get irrational. I cry after work.
And I take things personally. I do. My boss' missive about Subject X not being done properly? I'm pretty sure he means that about me. Even when I rationally know it's not.
And as I sit here typing this at 2 in the morning, I also accept that it should not matter to me.
Do I want you to know I'm smart and accomplished -- that I wasn't born yesterday, that I have a strong resume and a bunch of random talents? Yes. Does it hurt when I think that people make assumptions about me, my brain, my background? Yes.
But I realize -- at 2 a.m. -- that what really matters is a little red-haired boy sleeping down the hallway. He's my greatest accomplishment. He's the spark, the joy. He's what makes the rough days OK. His needs are way more important than anything else. Is he fed and healthy and thriving? Most definitely.
Plus, he's adorable and funny and kind.
If I can get his snuggles and his words of love, then maybe I need to let go of the other angst, the need for approval from the rest of the world. My resume doesn't matter to a (almost) 3-year-old. I matter: my presence, my love, my devotion, my care.
Ouch, that pin is starting to hurt. I should take this badge off.
Thanks, readers, for letting me work this one out.