It’s one in the morning and I just finished this….
I call it the messy fishbowl.
If I was Chris Hemsworth people would be raving about what a good parent I was, making my kid’s birthday cake myself even if it’s at 1 a.m. If I was Chris Hemsworth’s wife those same people would be tearing me apart for not planning ahead and making the kid’s cake earlier or, better yet, not being organized enough to order my precious offspring a fancy cake that probably cost more than some people’s cars. Luckily I’m neither. I’m just your basic Midwest mom with blue teeth (throwing frosting away is a cardinal sin even when it’s blue, a little too thin, and from a can).
There was a time when I was the mom who made this…
The not-so-messy fishbowl. Back when I put real effort into making my kids’ birthdays awesome. Okay, so that’s not the actual cake I made. I didn’t do the whole Jell-O water and fish jumping out at the top but it was pretty damn close. My then-young kids were thrilled. I was an awesome mom back then, even my kids thought so, but then again they weren’t teenagers. Things were different then.
In my defense, the current fishbowl cake was sprung on me this afternoon and I didn’t have to wait until this ridiculous hour to decorate it, I just procrastinated via a beer and Netflix (aka solo Netflix and Chill). This one is for my nephew whose sixth birthday is tomorrow, actually today now. My sister just had a baby a couple days ago, her fifth. (Yeah,that’s a thing in my family. I totally started it though). She was having a rough day so I went to help her for a bit and came home with the task of making the birthday cake. I figured I could do that before picking my own kids up from school for the evening but that didn’t happen and here I am finishing a cake after midnight on a weeknight. It’s not beautiful but it’s not terrible either. In other words, it doesn’t suck.
In three days I’m taking the DAT (dental admission test). It’s a big deal and I’m more than a little worried about it. I really haven’t studied enough; I am not ready for this. As I’m writing this I find myself wondering if I can move my testing date back. I doubt I can and I know that’s a bad idea. I shouldn’t even be wasting time thinking about it. The dental school application process is time sensitive. A couple thousand people apply; early applicants are processed first and given interviews first (if they’re chosen to be interviewed). I need to take this test now and I need to do…. average on it.
Yup, you read that right average. Although right now it doesn’t feel like that’s all that easy (#selfdoubt). I’ve been trying to maintain the ideal balance between terrified and self assured here but as test day approaches the scales are tipping towards terrified. There have been many pep talks interspersed with moments of panic. My perfectionist’s heart is struggling in this situation because I know I am not going to do great. But, like I said, I don’t need to do great, just okay.
See, all the other pieces of my dental school application are already complete or on their designated trajectories. The DAT is the only unknown piece. I’m pretty sure the rest of my stuff is looking good, very good, and overall I think I’m an excellent candidate for dental school. I’ve got a pretty good gpa with high grades in all my math and science classes (except that one C), I have years (like six) of dental field experience, my required 100 shadow or volunteer hours are in progress….(there’s more but I’m not going to bore you with all of it) As long as I do okay on the DAT I’ll be good.
I’m a big fan of mantras and lately mine has been “You just have to Not Suck. Just Don’t suck!”
Much like the cake I was making when I should have been sleeping or studying a few days ago, my test score doesn’t have to turn heads and wow people. It just has to NOT suck.
This IS the actual, nice and neat fishbowl cake I made for my son’s birthday ten years ago. Those black dots on the fish are gel icing carefully applied to Goldfish crackers to look like eyes. I took the time to put eyes on Goldfish crackers. I curled Fruit by the Foot like fancy party ribbons. The little half smile on my five-year-old’s face (and the fact that he let me take a picture) show how excited he was that day and how utterly satisfied he was with his special cake. My nephew had a similar look on his face when the messy fishbowl cake was set in front of him. He didn’t know or care that his cake wasn’t perfect, it was his and it didn’t suck.
Lately I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos and TED talks by Brene Brown. She’s a social researcher and author who talks and writes about fear, shame, and vulnerability. Fun stuff, right? Much of what she says about perfectionism resonates with me. I’ve realized that the past few years of my life have been a slow, arduous march towards self-acceptance. I’m not totally there yet but I’m getting closer. Things like this dental school application process take me back a little even while they’re showing me how far I’ve come. I feel the old bend towards perfectionism wanting to take over but also don’t feel like it’ll crush me if I don’t
measure up get in the first time I apply. At one time that would have been the ultimate failure. Now I’m pretty sure I’d just do a little better at whatever needed improvement and try again. So my goal this week is to do the best I can and just not suck. It’s the antithesis of perfectionism: Just don’t suck!
I’m pretty sure I can do that.