So, I’ve always been someone who liked to define success on her own terms. To learn on my own, to read up on topics and take the parts I need, to scorn anything that required me to meet anyone else’s standards.

Lately, however, I have realized that this attitude, while it serves me well in self-esteem and self-definition, is not exactly a growth mentality.

If I never allow myself to be evaluated by objective* criteria, how am I going to grow? How I am going to get any better?

Last week I happened on an online writing course being offered by the authors of a writing book I like. My first thought was ‘Nah, I already know how to write.” And normally that’s where I’d stop. This time I picked up on the fear and arrogance behind that statement. How arrogant of me to operate as if I already know all there is to know about writing. And how fearful of me not to want to be evaluated on my writing. Sure the criteria might not be objective, but the evaluation might be helpful.

I had a similar string of thoughts about Tae Kwon Do recently, too. Not that I know everything about that, I know hardly anything, but I am considering joining a class with The Boy in the fall (he’s already in a kids’ class, this would be the regular one) and I was immediately struck with the fear of being tested for my belts.

That’s right, folks, afraid of being tested for a class I haven’t started yet. Healthy, hey?

I’m not sure how to get past this but I am going to assume that babysteps is the way to go. I am going to take an online writing course, and then talk to some people about TKD.

Can you innoculate yourself against this sort of fear by exposing yourself to small fearful things at first and then building over time?

*I am never sure when criteria is ‘objective’ that’s part of the problem. I like to protect myself from unnecessary subjective evaluations when possible.

5 thoughts on “Evaluation

  1. cindy says:

    i am busting a gut laughing at you……well, not you, me!

    i was in kenpo for about a year and a half. i went from white belt to yellow….no problem. when it was time to go for the green, i quit.

    why, you ask, did she quit when achieving the first belt was a non-issue?

    plain and simple folks. NO CONTACT! for a yellow belt, you have to show technical ability. green belt, defensive and fighting ability against a BROWN belt. now, here i am, little old me with my yellow belt facing a brown. isn’t that one step away from black? yes ma’am. do i want my ass kicked? no sir!

    i believe brains over brawn every time! 🙂

  2. mombie says:

    Ha ha, Cindy! I can totally see that.

    I didn’t know you read my blog, glad to see you here. 🙂

  3. Your thing about writing classes sounds dangerously close to my 11 y.o., who has a beautiful voice but refuses to take voice lessons because “Those are for people who CAN’T sing!!”

    I’ve always been so impressed by your ability to do yoga on your own, without a class or a teacher — I know I could never motivate myself enough or push myself hard enough without a teacher. But I know you have enough trust in your own instincts to recognize when you do need motivation/evaluation from outside as well.

  4. mombie says:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Trudy.

    The voice lessons thing does sound very familiar. Have you read Mindset? When I was a kid I thought that having to practice anything meant that I wasn’t smart (clearly I was supposed to instantly be good at EVERYTHING I tried) and I wouldn’t risk being told I wasn’t smart so I wouldn’t take lessons or take any risks of that sort. It was only when I read Mindset that I put it together.

    Could C be doing the same thing?

  5. Good for you. I hope you enjoy it.

    In my experience, one is not so much inocculated against the fear, as one learns to distinguish good fear (say, jumping off a tall building into a shark-infested bay, or ramming one’s head into a pointed stick) from bad fear (the kind that holds you back from doing what you know you should be doing). I am still terrified of things I know are good for me, but I am getting better at telling the difference between them, knowing when to listen to the fear and when to go ahead anyway.

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