When You Think You Can't

I started graduate school exactly a week ago. For the past several months, even before I completed my applications, I was SO excited to start grad school. I couldn’t wait to begin. If I could have flown out and started grad school the day after I received my first acceptance, I would have.

ASU Night at the Diamondbacks vs. Angels Game

ASU Night at the Diamondbacks vs. Angels Game

Then, a week and two days ago, I moved into my new apartment. Suddenly, I wasn’t just waiting to start a new adventure. It was GO time. I woke up that next morning for orientation with a pit in my stomach. More like, I had a heavy boat anchor in there. My feet felt glued to the ground. I was sweating (and not from the Arizona heat.) I had the dreadful, sinking feeling that I had made the biggest mistake of my life.

Who was I to think that I could do this? Who was I to think that I was capable of thriving, let alone surviving in grad school? I hadn’t been in school for three years. I’d never had experience in journalism. I was going to start far behind my experienced classmates and only fall farther behind. I was doomed to fail. Worse – fail with a mountain of student debt. 

This tape recorder of thoughts kept playing over and over in my head. I felt guilty standing in the same room as my parents who had just taken a three-day road trip with me to Arizona to help me set up my new, beautiful apartment. I felt ashamed that I had chosen to do something so daring. 

On my way to orientation, I texted my close friends my fears. Thank gosh I have a tribe who can talk me down when I put myself on an impossible pedestal. They reminded me of some important things that I had forgotten. So, I will now tell you these things. If you are reading this thinking that you can’t do something, know that you can and you will. Here’s what to do when you think you can’t:

Breathe. Literally – sit there and only focus on breathing. Just take a moment to pause. Chances are, you’ve been running around like a crazy woman (at the very least, your thoughts have been running crazy.) Pausing will allow your little heart to slow down and rest. 

Know that you have been to hell and back already. You have already gone through something insanely difficult in your life, probably more difficult than what you’re about to do. If you've done that difficult thing, you can do this difficult thing. Take it one step at a time.

List your accomplishments. Physically sit down and write them out – in your phone, your planner, or a scrap piece of paper. How many people have done all the things on this list? Not that many, if anyone. Save that list and look at it whenever you need to. 

Lastly, this quote says it better than I ever could.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
— Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

Go forth and conquer, child of God.