Perseverance – just another story?
Written as part of the #DailyWritingChallenge #Perseverance
It’s taken me a long time to write my first blog post. Almost 1.5years since I first thought about it to be exact! So, it’s probably quite fitting that I’m writing (or trying to write) about perseverance, the commitment and persistence to reach an end goal.
Typically, perseverance is considered a feat of hard work and dogged determination. The idea that someone has kept trying despite knockbacks or difficulties. In my Year 2 classroom, the children will likely say that perseverance is when ‘you keep trying’ or ‘you don’t give up’. To some extent, they’re right I suppose. However, somewhere amongst the process of setting up my wordpress account, tentatively joining the #DailyWritingChallenge crew and agonising over how to start writing the damn thing, I’ve begun to wonder if it’s just a little bit more than that? Or, perhaps it is in fact a lot less? Let me explain …
So, here I am writing my first blog post. Yay! Go me! (whether I’ll actually go ahead and post it is another matter!). However, what I’m really saying to myself is … why haven’t you done this yet? How come it’s taken you so long? I tell myself it’s because I’ve been too busy, that there isn’t enough hours in the day, and that I’ve simply been too scared of what others might think. All of these things are true and you could argue that they are all barriers or obstacles that I have had to overcome. That somehow my perseverance has paid off on the battlefield of modern living and self-doubt, and that I am now triumphant. This is a nice story, it makes me feel good and I give myself a little pat on the back … but, I’m not sure it’s entirely true.
I think a bit further about how I have come to be here, sat at my laptop and musing wistfully over the value of perseverance. I come to the conclusion that I’m here, not because I’ve done anything remotely heroic, but because I do in fact now have the time. The time to sit and think, the time to connect with kick-up-the-bum initiatives like the #DailyWritingChallenge, and the time to tap away late at night without worrying about the alarm clock dragging me out of bed to be ready for school in the morning. The fact that I now have this time is not because of something I have done or that I have created, it is the result of COVID-19 and the subsequent pause or go-slow it has placed on all our lives. It’s an outcome of something in which I have played no part and through which I haven’t really persevered at all, I’ve just kind of existed.
This last narrative isn’t half as fulfilling as the previous. I feel flat, undeserving and – worst of all – ungrateful for the time I have suddenly been gifted (at the expense of others) but not worked for. I’ve decided that this isn’t okay, that I’m not happy to settle for that version of events, that this isn’t my story. I search. I search for meaning, for reason, for an excuse? I search for a better story to help frame my experience.
I decide that, whilst I didn’t necessarily persevere through trials and tribulations, I did in fact make the decision to be open to the #DailyWritingChallenge invitation. I did make the decision to sit at my desk instead of on the sofa. And, I did make the decision to open up a whole can of BLAHHH on to the page. Whether it’s of any use or whether it comes to any end is a matter for another day but for now, it’s enough. I’ve reframed both my internal and external reference and I feel much better about the whole thing. Much more hopeful and positive about the role that I have, and that I can continue to play … and besides, I’ve exceeded the 500 word count so I really ought to stop!
Like everything, perseverance is in the eye of the beholder. For me, in this moment, perseverance is less about the mantra of ‘keeping going’ and more about the action of ‘doing’. It’s a story-telling device, one that can be powerful in shaping how we act, and how we feel, in the world. I think, instead of ‘perseverance’ per se, I prefer the role of agency and of self-determined action. I don’t want to persevere, I want to ‘do’ and ‘be’ and make a difference at every step – not just through the culmination of a goal at the end of a journey.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for your perseverance! (or, not?!)