On Not Getting What I Asked For

April 24th, 2013 § 669

This is not an enjoyable time.

I have not written about it because this is not an enjoyable time.

To write about it would be to redeem it in some way, to see it as rich or beautiful or profound. And I don’t see it that way. I see it as shitty. I bet you I won’t always see it that way. I bet you someday, I will look back and laugh tenderly at how hard I took everything. But that doesn’t matter now, because someday is not today.

Here’s something that took me by surprise: it hasn’t actually been about not getting into graduate school.

It’s isn’t about not being able to go to that program or study that subject or earn that degree. I wish it was, oh how I wish it was! If this were the case, I know how to remedy that disappointment. There’s an application deadline for next year! And I certainly don’t consider myself above re-applying a time or two or three.

But it isn’t about that.

This is about not knowing.

This is about asking to be rescued from the not-knowing.

This is about not getting what I asked for.

I wanted this season to end. I wanted to have something definitive. Something to struggle for and towards. Something to give me my next finish line. And regardless of whether I would’ve felt 100% confident about the choice, an acceptance would have given me these things. If I were to get in, I thought, it would be nothing short of a cosmic rescuing. At the very least, it would have set me on a specific path.

But I wasn’t rescued. Not in the tidy or definitive way I wanted.

I know we don’t always get what we want. I’ve spent the last year around children, after all. I know they ask you for ludicrous things, things that aren’t good for them, things that are plain-out harmful. I’ve told them no. I’ve told them no, more often than not, because I love them and want well for them and care about who they’re becoming. And they can’t become all that they’re meant to be if they sit in their poopy diaper all day long watching Phinnaeus and Ferb, eating chocolate chip bagels three meals a day. By the fits they’ve thrown, I can tell you this is how they think they want things.

But I have to admit, I never actually stopped to think about what it felt like in their shoes. From my angle, ‘no’ in these situations was for their ultimate benefit. But what they see is something they consider to be good, really, really, good. And the person they love or trust to provide is denying them the very thing they know with the weight of their whole being (or quite often their taste buds) to be supremely delightful.

And that’s hard.

Fit-worthy even.

Looking through that end of the telescope, ‘no’ seems like a betrayal. A painful denial of good things, of love even.

That’s what it can feel like when you don’t get what you asked for.

That’s what it can feel like when you wanted to be rescued and you weren’t.

Even though you know cognitively it’s not those things, it really does, deep down in your being, feel that way.

Right now, I’m learning to sit with that. To name it. To let it be what it is.

Right now, I don’t want to hear “there’s big things ahead of you” or “it’s all going to work out” or “there’s a bigger plan”. Those are nice, true things, and maybe next month I’ll be ready to hear them.

But right now, I really only have room for “It’s hard. It sucks. And I’m with you.”

While I’m feeling a particular bout of ingratitude as of late, I am very, very grateful for a community that knows how to do the latter better than most.

Where am I?

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