Grit

I managed to make some progress on my graduate school essay. I sat in front of my computer last night for an hour and managed to write three pages (the limit is five pages). I answered two of the four questions and then I hit a roadblock.

What skills, abilities, and personal qualities do you possess that prepare you to succeed in completing graduate-level work?

Oh no. This is one of those questions that requires you to think positively of yourself. Acknowledging positive qualities and strengths is still something I struggle with. I mean, I’ve made some progress over the last few months, but I’m definitely not in a place where I can just freely talk about myself in a positive light.

I mentioned my essay progress and subsequent roadblock to my therapist in our session today. She tried to help me, but for every positive thing she mentioned, I came up with an opposing, less positive answer. She brought up my thesis, and how in the weeks before it was due, I insisted that I was never going to finish it. But I did finish it, on time, with a near-perfect grade. She said that has to prove that I have some abilities. I told her it was just luck. She insisted that it was not luck that I managed to finish all of that work in such a limited amount of time.

“Well, you’re right. It was the Adderall I took that allowed me to finish.”

“Well don’t write that in your essay,” my therapist responded, as if it needed to be said. We both laughed a little and by that point I think we both realized that this back-and-forth battle could go on forever. I wanted her to give up, but she finally said something that rang true for me.

“You’ve got grit. Yes, you’re intelligent, but I’ve seen many of my intelligent students end up accomplishing very little because they lacked the ambition and the grit needed to succeed. You’ve got both. You continued to fight when the odds were against you, and it got you to where you are today.”

Damnit. She’s right. I do have grit. Grit got me through school. Grit got me through my thesis. Grit got me through life. I could have given up at so many points, but I didn’t. I struggled, sure, but I never gave up entirely. I’ve always had an end goal in mind. Sometimes it gets a little muddled in all of the bullshit, and sometimes some of my parts can’t or don’t want to acknowledge that goal, but it’s always been there. It will always be there.

Now let me go write about my grit.

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