My proving days are over. Approaching my mid-seventies, I arrived at this conclusion recently. I do not have to prove myself any longer. What a relief, I thought. What a load off my shoulders.
In my younger years, I was always trying to prove something. On my first day to school, I knew it was important to go. Whether I thought it suitable or not. Proving that I could and doing it each day seemed the greatest challenge of my young years.
There seemed always something to prove. Was I capable of good marks? Keeping a job? And doing it properly. It did not always turn out as I wished. A few times I failed and was fired. Even the failing proved something. That I was not capable of a position as a file clerk, secretary, statistical typist or sales person. I also found it difficult to remain at a job for a lengthy period of time. These inadequacies were proven.
The proving days piled up, one after the other. No sooner had I proved one thing, another surfaced. Could I be an adequate wife, and mother? Would I be able to devote all it would take and give all that it demanded? Would these accomplishments still the restlessness in me and offer the feeling of contentment?
For a long time it did. I was proving it every day. Being a partner to another human being, sharing the hours, brought me a sense of accomplishment. A daughter or son’s smile in my direction gifted me with power. I could do anything I thought to myself. With this energy around me.
But even there were proving times. I was not the most devoted housekeeper. The mop, the broom, the cleaning tools faced me as a threat to my tranquility. Others received joy from housecleaning. Even a relief from stress. But for me it was another proving time. To prove I could if I put my mind to it.
And I worked hard at proving. Not only just the little stuff but the big stuff also. If I was afraid, I tried to prove I was not. If I felt incapable of dealing with life as it presented itself to me, I felt the need to rise above my fears as a soldier would in battle.
I did not want to fail anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. As a parent. As a wife. As a mother. As a daughter. As a sister. As a friend. Even as a citizen. It was important that I prove to others how much I cared. There were no grand illusions that I could be the best of anything. But just to be good enough. That brought proving.
Now at this time in my life, I realize it unnecessary to prove myself. My family knows I love them. So do my friends. No longer must I prove that I have courage .Cancer taught me I do. Or the ability to recover from a broken heart. Widowhood taught me I could. Or to support myself the best I knew how. Becoming a landlady and my writing efforts taught me I could even do that.
It is only in later life, that I realize I do not have to prove myself to anyone else. But me. And now even that is no longer necessary. It took a long time to get here, to be happy with myself, as imperfect as that self might be.
My proving days are over. But not my doing days. Unencumbered by self-doubt, they are just beginning.
Harriet May Savitz has over 24 books published by major publishers Savitz’s book, “Run, Don’t Walk,” was made into an ABC Afterschool Special produced by Henry Winkler. Her book, Fly, Wheels, Fly, was nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award. Her young adult novel, The Lionhearted, was listed as one of the most popular books in The University of Iowa’s Books for Young Adults.
She received the PSLA 1981 Outstanding Pennsylvania Author Award and in celebration of the International Year of Disabled Persons, received recognition for her nonfiction young adult book, Wheelchair Champions. Also, Harriet is a contributor to 15 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.