Achievement Season: A Word

Here is something I wrote on Facebook this morning and wanted to share with a wider audience.

Because it is graduation, banquet and academic achievement time, I want to send a word of encouragement to everyone—whether you won and award or not, had an impeccable sports season or not, whether your band did well or not, whether your kid’s academic achievement excelled or not.

I am sharing this because I had no idea how much my identity was tied up in all these achievements until last year happened. When what I needed most was not my achievements or my family’s achievements—I needed friends; we needed friends. We needed fathers, mothers, siblings, and anything/one that would circle around us and remind us of our name: Beloved. So, this is my attempt to be the person I needed for you, right now—whether you are in crisis mode or not. If I am on the front end of your crisis, b/c the day of crisis will come (it comes for everybody), I hope you read this and know you can call me and I will come running if you need me. I do not care what you did or did not do. My presence is unconditional. We are all human beings and it is complicated being human. My pain has grown my compassion to encompass the whole universe.

I am not typically a person who wins awards, and I am okay with that. I am not motivated by awards (what I am good at does not get an award), but I have been extremely motivated by grades and being loved by everyone. These pursuits can also get in the way of you knowing yourself—it did for me. This happy-go-lucky woman (the real Lindsay) who entered seminary with so much joy and anticipation, became a ball of stress and anxiety when it came time for grades. I took it personally and felt like a failure or a joke if these grades were not up to my idea of a high standard. My friends seemed to be having no problem excelling (I know that is not true. It just felt true). I had literal panic attacks over grades. A lot of pent-up trauma in my body came out and revealed itself through grades.

Two people at Perkins, one a professor and the other a jack-of-all trades at Perkins, said some important things to me that I want to share with you. Their words came from seeing and knowing me (what I am motivated by) and were able to calm me down when my panic was high. Their words also came from their wisdom seeing which students make it in the field once they graduated. These two people loved me well, even when I was stressing out and not myself. They cared about me, no matter what state I was in. This is what I remember most about them. I know they have won many awards and have achieved a lot in life, but I cannot tell you a thing about their achievements. What I can tell you is how they treated me—even when I was being unreasonable. There is a quote about this.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou

Can confirm.

Here is what was said to me.

From my professor: Lindsay, I know your grades are not at the top of the class, but I still see you as a top student. You are the one I see as ready to take off and live what you are learning. I cannot teach that.

From my dearest Perkins friend: (This is also proven through studies) Lindsay, the people who get straight As in school are also often the people who burn out first once they leave the academic setting.

I am not sharing this to downgrade people who win lots of awards and are getting straight As. But do take this to heart. I have another Patch Adams example:

Philip Seymour Hoffman (may his memory be a blessing) played the role of Mitch in Patch Adams. He was the overachieving medical student and was Patch Adams (Robin Williams, may his memory be a blessing) roommate. He was not impressed with Patch Adams playfulness all throughout school. He felt he was making a joke out of something serious and did not like him for it. I loved Patch’s response. You think you have to be a prick to achieve anything, and you think that is a new idea.

The day came Mitch could not help a patient who refused to eat. He told Patch that he can outdo and outdiagnose him, but he cannot make her eat. (Patch was leaving the medical field at this point). He asked him to stay. What Patch does can’t be taught—it can only be lived.

Here is the actual quote at the end of the movie that has guided my life ever since I watched this movie when I was in college the first time:

You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.

“At what point in history did a doctor become something more than a trusted and learned friend who visited and treated the ill?”

These quotes apply to any and all professions. If we know this deep in our bones, what we win or don’t win won’t really matter. We will have what is truest: Friendship.

Congrats to everyone whether you achieved the most or not. Your existence is a miracle and will heal what needs mending when you live into your truth.

The pace of God is slow. Here is a pic of a turtle. Reminds me of Mr. Rogers having us watch a turtle walk across the room and calling it a miracle. This was while the rest of the world was going too fast and denigrating human dignity.

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