Disclaimer: I struggle with writing this, not because it's terribly painful but because I worry that I will be thought egotistical or bragging. I suppose that's the whole point...read on.
I had a conversation with S on Thursday which sparked a conversation with my therapist yesterday. In that conversation, we were talking about the sort of benign neglect that I received growing up. My parents did the best they could, but were more comfortable losing themselves in their books or their television than with being present with one another or their children.
As a consequence, I never got a lot of attention for my successes. I never had much trouble with school. I'd do most of my homework during study period. I just don't have much of a memory of studying. And for the most part, I got As and Bs. But no one really paid attention. "Your parents never talked to you about your report cards?" my therapist asked. No, not really. There was no praise, no interest in why I chose the classes I chose. No questions about the occassional Cs. So long as I wasn't failing there was no notice given.
And then it dawned on me...I was within spitting distance of being accepted to Georgetown and there was never any praise or notice given to that either. Georgetown.
I don't know why I'd decided to apply there. I applied there and to the University of MN. I don't think that I talked to my parents much about the decision. I got the application, filled it out - essays and all - in the living room while the family was watching television, and sent it off. I was a little shocked that I was asked for an interview...not because I'd expected to be rejected right off, but because I didn't realize that upper tier colleges did interviews with prospective students. And I got waitlisted. At Georgetown!
Think of what students have to go through today...it's not like it was that much less competitive when I applied. I was just effing clueless. I filled in the application and, yes, worked on the essays, but I never had them read by anyone or proofed. I typed up the second draft and sent in this application and was able to get on the waitlist...a good probability that (if I'd been able to afford it) I would have actually gotten in.
I couldn't afford it, I was pretty sure, and I had a panic about moving so far away from home. But it all passed me by without any celebration or acknowledgement that this had been a big deal.
I also go into the University of MN, which is where I ended up doing my undergraduate studies.
I just never recognized it...and it makes sense now that I was also never pushed to do better than I did. My parents always wanted me to be happy, which is good, but in terms of excelling, there was no guide as to how that might happen. And now I flounder a bit when someone pays attention to what I'm doing, like S, and I worry that he is only paying attention because he doesn't trust me when in reality, he's paying attention because he likes to see me succeed and enjoys being a part of the process. It's a strange, new concept to me.
Tangent: Nora Roberts is a commenter over at Smart Bitches (in my blogroll). I've been reading trashy novels for a very long time, but have never been into Ms. Roberts because most of her writing seems to be contemporary. Well, since she's gotten consistent praise over at SB, when I saw some books at Goodwill, I decided to give her a read. And I love her! How lucky am I to find that I love the work of one of the most prolific romance novelists out there. I can read her previous novels for a long time without running out! Rock on!