I am not a competitive person. I don’t usually take part to win. To be honest, I rarely take part. I’m not the group stuff type. But if someone tells me that something I think is achievable can’t be done or is too hard for me or even hints at the possibility of it being better to give in than try, I fight back. I find myself subconsciously accepting the challenge. The unset challenge. Known only to me. Because I am not the I’ll prove you wrong type.
I nearly failed my mock exam in Leaving Cert honours maths. Afterwards at the suggestion, not from my teacher by the way, that I go easy on myself and drop to ordinary level, I decided to prove to myself that I could do it and I did higher level in every subject. The only pupil in the year to do that. I don’t think anyone knows or cares. But I know it and I know that I did something others thought was too much for me.
When my boss’s boss told me in 2005 I should just go back to Ireland because he can’t keep me on and there were no jobs in Germany, I didn’t give up till I found a job. It paid better than I could have expected and I excelled at it.
When another boss told me, while I was pregnant with child number two, that I probably wouldn’t be able to fulfill my duties at work as a mother of two, I changed department to a more demanding job, did well at it and moved on to something better with less hours and more flexibility. Oh, and I had a third child somewhere along the line too.
So a few weeks ago when the guy from the specialists for sofa slip covers told me they couldn’t help me because my sofa is the wrong shape for a slip cover, do you know what I did? I accepted the unspoken challenge. I measured every angle of the sofa, watched online tutorials, made a pattern and bought fabric. I cut out and sewed and transformed our sofa within three days having never taken on such a big sewing project before.
Of course in my almost 40 years on this planet there have been things I really didn’t manage. Things that were a mistake, or two much or that I failed at***. Don’t say I can’t. Don’t hint at it. Don’t even accidentally imply it. I will do my best. And I might just prove you wrong.
*** Irish driving tests 1, 2 and 3, I dedicate this post to you. Funnily enough, as soon as I moved to Germany and had to drive on the wrong side of the road and take a theory test in a foreign language, I passed first time.