Time to answer another reader question.
This week’s question comes from Jami, who writes:
O.K. I want to ask a question.
What quality do you wish you had?
Seriously, I have such a hard time wishing for qualities that I don’t have. It is terrible of me, but I do it all the time.
You have so many qualities that I wish I had. What are some that you wish you had?
And here’s my answer:
The list of qualities I wish I could claim is longer than math class to a junior high kid. I could go on and on: grace, poise, generosity, frugality, tenacity, strength, bravery, immense and unending wealth, no pimples, etc. But when it comes right down to it, all those things I wish I had are probably attainable someday with enough focus and work; that is, as long as I don’t get discouraged.
See, that’s my biggest flaw, or at least, it’s the flaw that seems most glaring to me at this point in my life: discouragement. Namely, the fact that I let discouragement overcome me nine times out of ten. Got a bad grade on an exam? FORGET IT; I’M FAILING THIS STUPID CLASS AND I WILL NEVER GET MY GRADES BACK UP. Eyes in such bad shape that very few doctors would even dare to give me Lasik™? FINE, I’LL BE BLIND FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, AND THAT’S THAT. Gained ten pounds over the course of the semester despite working out more vigorously than ever before and quitting sugar? WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER? I MIGHT AS WELL GO EAT THAT HALF GALLON OF PK’S CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SITTING IN MY FREEZER.
When things aren’t going my way, I tend to resign myself to my fate before it’s even decided exactly what that fate will be. I’ve been pegged as a quitter from a young age, and instead of working hard to prove everybody wrong, I’ve always just thrown up my hands and said, EVERYONE SAYS I’M A QUITTER SO IT MUST BE TRUE; TO HELL WITH IT ALL—I QUIT.
Ironic, isn’t it?
It worries me how this trait will follow me into motherhood: if my baby is crying and I’ve tried everything I could think of to mollify it, but nothing works, will I just toss the kid in its crib, shrug my shoulders and say, “Well, that’s too bad; I tried, but he didn’t want to be happy, so I guess I shouldn’t have been a mother after all.” That’s kind of scary.
I know I need to change this characteristic, but I don’t even know where to begin. I guess the only thing to do other than hiring a life coach or a shrink is just…to stop quitting. (Quit quitting, ho, ho!) To recommit myself to whatever cause is ailing me, and try again.
Ultimately, then, Jami, the one trait I wish I had at this point in my life (and the one trait I am going to work on developing) is perseverance, or the power of perspective. In the grand scheme of life, my problems are enormously insignificant. (Oh, really, lady? You’re complaining about having to read so many books for school? Gee, I wish all my books hadn’t been destroyed in an earthquake last month; or gee, I wish I lived in a country rich enough to own a book in the first place.) To some people, having the problems I have would be a joy, a delight. I wish I could make myself see things from that perspective, and then endure to the end of life’s race with a little more dignity than I’ve done in the past.
I can’t rely on Poor Kyle to pick me up and carry me to the finish line, because he’s got high cholesterol and would probably die from a heart attack if he had to bear my burdens on top of his. I can’t rely on my sister or my parents because they’ve got problems of their own. Oh, sure, they can all cheer me on, maybe run one leg for me here and there when I really need a boost, but in the end, the only person who can finish this race for me is me.
Now if only I didn’t hate running so much…