Today has been a lot, youse guys.
I found hella typos in a draft of something I freelance wrote yesterday, which nearly sent me down a shame spiral.
But I had no time to spiral, because I needed to read a book so I could write its description, begin editing the book since I have meetings tomorrow and Friday and won’t be able to devote an entire workday to it, and take my younger son to the eye doctor.
But wait, there’s more.
Did I mention I am apparently being interviewed by a local news station Friday morning? (A local reporter found me on Twitter, asked if I left teaching because of the pandemic (I didn’t), and the next thing you know…)
And that I finally got an invitation to apply for a job on an online freelancer platform, only to receive a notification a short while later that the posting was removed because it didn’t meet the site’s standards.
All of this has reminded me of a book I listened to several years ago called Grit. At the time I came across this title, I was a classroom teacher who didn’t have the verbiage to express why I adamantly refused to label any of my students as “smart.” In my experience, that label would serve two dastardly purposes:
- The would start to think they were so naturally intelligent that they didn’t think they have to work hard or do good work. This meant that when they inevitably didn’t receive the grades they believed themselves entitled to, the teacher would get the blame.
- Their lifelong friend and classmates who were not labeled “smart” would not try very hard either, because they didn’t believe they held the potential to perform well.
The whole set-up was trash.
So I treated “smart” like a four-letter word.
Therefore, when I came across Grit, I found in it the science that backed up my lived experience. In author Angela Duckworth’s research, she found that grit was the lone determining factor in student success.
In the years since Grit’s publication, some folks have found flaws in Duckworth’s science, and others have taken exception to the idea that students who work hard will succeed. Critics argue that Duckworth’s research doesn’t take into account trauma, systemic inequities, learning differences, or a host of other variables that factor into student success.
But for me, today, grit was exactly what I needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other, sidestep the shame spiral, and leap over distractions to remain focused on the day’s goals.
Today, tomorrow, and any other day you may need to pick yourself up to keep going, I hope this acronym I concocted using the letters in “grit” will meet you where you are:
- Growl – you will need to do this under your breath if you are in public, but low key it’ll probably be cathartic
- Remember – focus on the task in front of you and your goals. For me, this also means taking the time to remember that this freelance/full-time writer thing is new for me. So I am not supposed to have it all figured out yet.
- Inhale – this is that breathing shit our smart watches ask us to do that we dismiss because who the hell has time. Do it. Inhale. Hold your breath. Then exhale. Repeat this until your heart rate regulates and your thoughts begin to clear.
- Take heart. – Focus on the heart of who you are and how that overlaps with what you do to earn your living. There’s a sweet spot in the middle of that Venn Diagram. Visualize it and fix it in your mind.
When we summon our grit, we can do hard things.