The Importance of Basking in the Glory of Small Victories

Recently* a friend told me something surprising.

She said that I was impressive.

It took me some time to soak this peculiar idea up. I am far too used to thinking of myself as the opposite, and so the idea that I might be considered ‘impressive’ was altogether too strange to be believed. I mean, yes, the website header does include a cartoon picture of me riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex which cuts a pretty impressive figure, but spoiler alert, that never actually happened. That’s just artistic license.

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The cold, hard reality is that I’m 25 years old and I’m useless at most useful things, such as social interaction, basic time management, showing initiative, caring even slightly about money and physically doing things. I don’t even have a job or any prospect of getting one until my CFS improves.

If you’re thinking that I’m being hard on myself and want to assure me that without CFS I would be a dinosaur-riding force to be reckoned with, then thank you, really, that’s very sweet. But you’re embarrassingly wrong. My maximum pre-CFS coping level just about covers going to the supermarket. That is to say, sometimes. Certainly if it isn’t peak shopping hour. Actually even then still maybe not, because when push comes to shove I can drink my tea without milk, and let’s be honest, the toilet paper situation is never really desperate until you’ve also run out of tissues.

Being impressive is a nice idea though, and it grew on me. Around this time I also realised I hadn’t made a blog post in a while, so I made a list my achievements of the past few months and have taken the time to publicly gloat over them. Opportunities to rub victories into defeated opponents’ faces are thin on the ground when your general moral policy is not to be a jerk (disclaimer: general moral policy does not apply when playing Mario Kart). As such, I think it’s important to make the most of defeating non-person things like brain-fog or the knit-1-below stitch.

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That’s right. A whole jumper. A whole jumper that looks acceptable and doesn’t have unplanned holes. It’s my first knitted jumper. Before this jumper, I had only ever knitted scarves, blankets and headbands. I started it last winter and finished it in summer, but I didn’t think my victory could be properly relished without wearing it, at least for a day.

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A popular way for movies and novels to illustrate a significant change in a person’s life is to show that person in two similar events before and after the change. It seems like a fun and effective trick, and I simply can’t resist giving it a try.

For me, the beginning of 2015 was something like…

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… which may seem bad, but it’s actually really good because the beginning of 2014 was more like …

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… as it occurred just over 24 hours after I had major surgery to remove a begin but ridiculously enormous ovarian cyst (seriously, it was 20cms across and weighed 1.5kg).

So I’m counting that as a general life improvement to feel good about.

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For some reason I tend to not count university as an achievement. I’m not really sure why.

I say things like: “I’m useless. I haven’t done anything in the last few years.”

And my friends give me funny looks and say: “Didn’t you get two degrees? I’m sure I remember you whinging about assignments, pulling all-nighters and babbling about the Dewey decimal system while sobbing uncontrollably. If you need reminding I can produce photographic evidence of you tossing a mortarboard in the air with apparent glee.”

So this time I will count it.

In November I completed my final semester of my library and information management graduate diploma. After becoming unwell, I had to study part-time and externally. It was still hard. The effort I had to put into coursework gave me near-constant brain fog and made me crash all the time. I was accustomed to getting good grades, and it was soul-crushing to understand what was involved in an assignment but have my brain and health fail me so utterly that I still could not meet all the requirements. I drifted in a never-ending sea of confusion, vice-like headaches and exhaustion.

My grades dropped.

But I passed.

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I posted last year that due to ridiculous levels of brain fog brought on by university I found myself incapable of reading Moby Dick. At the time I had to accept my limitations and stick with re-reading Harry Potter instead.

But know I have finished university and I have more freedom in what I read. I don’t have to throw every last ounce of energy at textbooks and essays. Now I can once again direct my energy toward dense, wordy books.

So I went straight back to Moby Dick and totally crushed it.

… in the mature, intelligent, literary sense of ‘totally crushed it.’

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If you have some victories to bask in the glory of, please do so in the comment section! It will make you feel warm and glowy, and who doesn’t like feeling warm and glowy?

* When I started writing this ‘recently’ was a valid word choice, but at the time of posting ‘a couple of months ago’ would be more accurate. I kept getting distracted and not finishing this post, primarily because it doesn’t have very many good jokes and I find jokes motivating.

 

12 thoughts on “The Importance of Basking in the Glory of Small Victories

  1. Hear hear! You did a great many positive things and achieved much to be proud of if you were completely healthy. You managed a degree in the midst of mind numbing brain fog and exhaustion- truly impressive! Oh and read Moby Dick too ;) Right now I consider rereading Harry Potter and finding new wrock songs a major achievement…..

    1. Thank you! Re-reading Harry Potter is always a major achievement! Did you know some people haven’t even read Harry Potter once? CRAZY RIGHT? I was shocked too. But those people actually exist, and every time you re-read Harry Potter you lap them again.

      1. Don’t get those people at all! Amazing that they exist, ah, but just think of what they have to look forward to if they ever stumble across a hard to get copy (not!). And if you have never heard wizard rock, hence wrock, listen to Open at the Close by Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls (try YouTube) to start. It’s one of hundreds, nay, thousands, of magical fan written songs.
        Cheers, hope today is a good one!

      2. … Oh my God. This is why the internet can be really awesome. There I was, going about my life as usual, and then suddenly, because of the internet, I know that wizard rock is a thing. There goes the rest of my day (which will definitely be a good one). ‘Open at the Close’ is really cute! I love the cartoon with the music video, especially the bit where Neville swords the snake, which kept making me giggle for some reason.

  2. Dinosaurs are ALWAYS awesome. My most recent victory was reading a 500 page book in a few days. Before that, my brain fog was bad enough that I couldn’t even follow a comic book. It is such a relief to have my mind back.

    1. Woo! That’s definitely a victory worth celebrating. Go you!

      Yeah, it’s just the worst thing to have your mind stop working. I feel like I can handle the tiredness and the lack of physical energy much better than the days where I just can’t think

  3. I loved reading this. Your writing and drawings are very impressive, and so are you. I tried to read ‘Moby Dick’ and had to skip all the technical bits about how to kill a whale because I thought it was too boring. Have a go at ‘War and Peace’ next, or ‘The Luminaries’ by Eleanor Catton. They both take ages to read, but are worthwhile, and you can boast about it when you finally finish.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was bit of a grind to get through all that whaling stuff. And every time it got all figurative and overblown (i.e., most of the time) my poor foggy brain would get very confused about what was actually, literally happening and what was just the narrator wording all over the place. Metaphors can be a surreal experience when you have brain fog.

      Good suggestions … I think I need a break from heavy reading before tackling those though. I’ll be on an I.V. drip of genre fiction for a while.

  4. I think you are pretty fab. You really do have achievements to brag about there. One of my biggest wishes is to have a degree, (I bailed after 6 months way back when!), also, a jumper! Wow, I have been knitting a scarf for…..I kid you not here…….around 10 years. Yes really! It’s very long but that isn’t the point is it?! I’ve lost the wool I need to do the band finish it and the sheep that produced it have probably joined the dinosaurs in extinction by now so it will probably never be finished! :D Anyway, I digress, I think you are fab and I’ve nominated you for a sisterhood blog award. :D Here is my post! https://pinkpearbear.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/loosing-my-baby-to-school-sisterhood-award-post/

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