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Friday, July 11, 2003 

The other night I had come home from a meeting feeling rather down about myself. The whole way home I was convinced that not only was I a failure, but that I was also a fraud. I felt as if I was totally selling myself short and leading my life to nowhere. Nothing seemed good enough. Not my degree from a prestigious university, not my good job, not my wonderful boyfriend, not the fact that I successfully moved out on my own 6 months ago and am supporting myself very well, not my position on a non-profit's Board of Directors (and their insistence that I become Vice President), and not all of the other things I've accomplished in my life.

It was actually at that non-profit's board meeting that these feelings began to swell. The Vice President's position has been open for some time now, and I've been prodded both by the current President and a few of the other board members to fill the position. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now, but have been hesitating to jump on. I know it would be a great move for me, but I can't seem to believe that I'm capable. I sort of admitted this at the meeting when I was asked why I didn't seem interested in the position. Of course this was followed up by everyone telling me that they believed I was more than capable of doing the job, and that they thought I'd be a great candidate for future President of the board (VP's job is to be groomed for the President's position). Yet despite their compliments and faith, I just couldn't buy into it.

It's funny because it seems that there is one part of my brain that knows I'm capable of doing anything I want to. And that part of my brain can cite all the times I've accomplished amazing things that I never thought I'd be able to do. Yet there's that other part of my brain trying to tell me that I just faked my way through all of it. That in truth I really didn't know what the hell I was doing and that it was pure luck, and nothing more, that helped me get through it. Of course, in the end it's that second voice that tends to win, despite the fact that deep down I know how irrational it is.

As I drove home, I lamented over all of the reasons I'm just a big fraud who will never really accomplish anything in her life. Why I'll end up stuck as an Administrative Assistant for the rest of my life, or end up doing some job that doesn't honor the degree I supposedly earned. I told myself that everyone I know seemed like they were just going to pass me on by, and that just wasn't fair. Especially when I knew deep down that in reality I should be destined for far greater things than I seem to think I'm headed for.

When I got home I plopped down on the couch and immersed myself in knitting to distract me from my thoughts. As I watched the object grow before my eyes, one row after the other, carefully thought out and assembled, I realized that perhaps this was more than just a hobby -- it was a message. When I first began knitting I had no former skill or training. Just a will to learn, grow, and succeed. I taught myself, from a book, pushing myself further each time I hit a snag. Before I knew it I was actually accomplishing something that only an hour before I hadn't the slightest idea how to do. I remember feeling so proud after completing my first garter stitch square that I called my mother to gloat. I had done it. On my own. Without anyone's help. And it turned out really well.

And the next day I pushed myself further. And I pushed on even further the day after that, and the day after that, and so on. I just kept chugging along, occasionally getting stuck, but always managing to pull myself free and advancing ahead in the end. Sometimes those stuck moments seemed impenetrable. Occasionally I even thought for a few seconds that I couldn't do it. But I pushed along anyway until I finally figured it out.

As time has progressed so have my skills. It's amazing to me to look at how much I've accomplished and learned in such a small amount of time. When I finished Jonathan's afghan a week ago I remember standing there in my living room, the blanket lying on the floor, thinking to myself how absolutely amazing it was that I made something so beautiful with just some sticks, some string, and a lot of time and effort.

And it's precisely that way in my real life. I already have the basic tools I need to be successful, it's just a matter of pushing myself as hard as I can until I finally get it right. And just like knitting, I can rip most things back and try again. Eventually I'll get it though, and the end result will be reward enough.

The difference is that with knitting you can see the progress as you go along, and mistakes are often easily visible. With every stitch, and every row, you see progress. It's tangible and real. You know there's an end, and you know what it is -- it's just a matter of chugging along until you get there. And when you make a mistake it's often easy to see exactly where it was made, and even if you can't figure out quite what you did wrong, you can almost always go back and fix it. With life, the results are not always so visible. Some times it seems like you've made no progress, when in fact you have. There's often nothing actually there that you can look at that gives you irrefutable proof of your progress. Regardless, that progress is still there. And with continued time and effort, eventually you'll reach the end, bind off the stitches of experience and hard work, and be left with a finish object you can truly be proud of because you earned it. Those end results are also not so easily known. Unlike knitting, you don't know what all those life stitches will build. You never know quite what the end product will look like until you actually get there. But, you'll never know if you don't believe in youself enough to try.

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  • I'm Dani
  • From San Francisco
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