I’ve been sitting here for the last half hour staring blankly at my laptop, opening website after website, reading dodgy articles on thejournal.ie. That’s not why I sat down. I sat down to finish off a journalism assignment that I started two months ago. This sounds like I’ve been dragging my heels, procrastinating this assignment. I have not. In fact, I have researched four thoroughly different articles, all half-written, because I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to write more. Don’t get me wrong: this information will undoubtedly come in handy on a later date. But this article was going to be amazing. I mean award-winning amazing. That’s not quite what I see when I read it back. I’m now afraid to open it in case I feel an uncontrollable urge to delete the whole lot (again). I’m a relentless perfectionist to the point of neuroticism: in other words, I think I am losing my sanity.
The first half of my life was dominated by people pushing me to achieve my potential. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing at all: if it wasn’t for these people (my parents, teachers, Occupational, physio and speech therapists, etc), there is no way that I would be sitting here in my own house writing this blog. Somewhere along the way, I took over, setting ridiculous standards for myself. I wrote a play in Transition Year and later helped to produce it when it was staged by my classmates, some of whom were less than thrilled when they landed male roles (it was an all-girls school). It took the best part of a month to recover from the exhaustion and my mental health was in tatters. Did I take it easy that summer? Nah! I instead got a summer job with the Tullamore Tribune, where I worked until two weeks before fifth year started, putting aside the money for a holiday in a feckin respite centre in Roscommon (not Ibiza) a year later. I know what you’re thinking. I’m wild. Woo! Then fifth year saw me abandon all forms of human contact as I threw myself into studying for the Leaving Cert. Worried by the prospect of ending up permanently unemployed, I spent eight hours a night (4-12) studying in Fifth Year, much to the despair of my broken-hearted parents who were actually expecting me to collapse dead on the floor with exhaustion. I have to do this, I would say to myself. I have to prove to everyone what I am capable of. I will not be defined by my disability.
Somehow, I managed to dodge a prolonged stay in a facility with padded walls and men in little white coats and I made it to Trinity College. Phew, I thought, I can relax now. And I did for the first two years, until my marks counted for something, and guess what? The old Sarah came back in third year, and so did that irritating voice. You got a scholarship to study here, for God’s sake. There’s no point in doing things by halves. And without the nagging of my parents and (then) fiancé (now husband) I was free to stay up working till 2-3am on essays, presentations and my dissertation. I lived off sugar and cereal like every other student. I would turn up for tutorials, bleary-eyed, wondering which book was being discussed today (I only read a selection of novels. Anyone on that course-and you know who you are- who read every prescribed novel/play please step forward for your gold medal). Although I let my hair down a little, I didn’t exactly have a roaring social life in college. I will admit that I did go on three foreign holidays during my college years with friends from home, but the details of those are a little hazy (though not nearly hazy enough)!!
Earlier this year, I was thirty. Like many, I looked back on the aims I had set myself for when I reached the big milestone: have a Master’s degree in Journalism and be actively working in the field; maybe write a novel or a book of poetry; do a Masters in Disability Studies. None of these were goals I ever reached, and sometimes I feel as if I’ve let myself slide into complacency. On the other hand, I have such a wonderful husband who supports everything I do and without whom I’d be lost, my daughter who makes me smile from the start of the day to its end with her hilarious antics and a lovely place to call home. I am so lucky, and it wouldn’t hurt me to stand back and count my blessings every once in a while.
Ugh, look at this blog. Look at the dust on the mantelpiece. Look at the laundry piling up in the back hall. Maybe I’ll do some dusting. Maybe I should fold more clothes. Or maybe I’ll just … take it easy and watch some TV and deal with it all tomorrow. It will be still there tomorrow, along with my unfinished assignment.
Maybe, one day I’ll learn that everyone has their limitations.
That nobody is perfect.
Sometimes I need to take it easy, and hopefully one day, I’ll be okay with this.