The stories we tell ourselves…

I was with a couple of friends and we were talking about language and in particular single words and the effect they can have on us.  One of my friends was saying that “only” is a really powerful word and he was describing how it can be used to get an emotional response from someone that can make them question there assumptions.  Have you ever experienced someone saying something along the lines of I am impressed with that considering she is “only” a women.  If you are a women, does that cause an emotional response in you?!

I commented on how I “only” had 2:2 in my degree.  Given that when I went to university no more than 5% of the population went and my degree classification was in the top 50% of that, it is nothing to be disappointed with, let alone ashamed of, but since the time I  found out, I have always felt that way.  At a moment in my life when I should have celebrated I was dissatisfied. In all of my very satisfying working life I have rarely been asked what degree I have, let alone what classification it was.  But there have been many times that I have considered myself less than up to the mark, I have spent a lot of time considering myself “only” a 2:2.

So as we discussed this, the friends I was with asked me how I could rephrase that, but it was so deeply ingrained in my thinking I really struggled to think of a way to reframe it. We had a lovely afternoon chatting and then as we were leaving, one of my friends said to me “just before we go do something for me”.  She sat up and with a big grin on her face and in a bright cheerful voice said “can you tell me “I’ve got a 2:2”.” Copying her body language and voice I did as she asked……it is the first time in 21 years I have actually felt proud of my degree!

So I thought that was the end of the story and I would just go along being cheerful with my new set of feelings. A few days later I was deep in conversation with another friend and I recounted this incident, I discovered that she had exactly the same feelings about her degree, those of disappointment and frustration, that she only had a 2:2. I am very much looking forward to seeing her face to face so that I can say to her “just before we go do something for me………..”

I love the way that so often in life we are given gifts, and then a little while later the opportunity to pass those gifts on.

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