“It’s a process.”
I’ve regularly strung those words together for the last year. What started as a (daily, maybe hourly) reminder for my kids as they tackled remote school has now infiltrated to my very bones.
I see reminders everywhere.
Mid-kitchen renovation? It’s a process.
Memorizing multiplication facts? It’s a process.
Learning the triple jump? It’s a process.
Mastering an instrument? It’s a process.
Right now, in early spring, I can’t even look out my window without being hit in the eyeballs by the visual “it’s a process” process happening in my yard. And this particular process is an ugly one, as patchy, very green fescue splotches the still-brown bermuda. Eventually the bermuda will come alive, but until then, my yard is mottled.
I remember driving up to our home the first early spring that we lived in our house and being appalled at our yard. My husband enjoys yardwork to an extent and works hard to keep weeds at bay so to have a yard that looked like a patch of weeds was a shock to my system, particularly after moving from the lush greenery of full-on fescue. That first spring I couldn’t look at my yard without regretting the whole purchase. Not only did the grass look terrible, but we’d purchased a home that needed room-by-room renovation. I was overwhelmed and wanted to move back across town to the house that still felt like home.
After several weeks of buyer’s remorse, I remember coming home from track practice one evening to realize the bermuda had come out of its slumber to even out the green tones. With a fresh mowing, the fescue blended in and the yard looked healthy. That change took some of the venom out of my regret.
We’ve lived in our house four years now, and it’s still not finished. Not only has it been a process to renovate each room, but it’s also been a process for me to even like the space. Process, process, process. Are you rolling your eyes yet? If so, you’re in good company, because as I’ve awakened to the reality of “it’s a process” — and by the “it” I’ll defend that the substitutions are virtually limitless — I’ve also come to realize how often resistance on our part becomes part of the process.
A few months ago as I got ready to remind my third grader that we do hard things one step at a time, he beat me to the punch: “I KNOW what you’re going to say. One step at a time.” Eyeroll.
A couple weeks ago, working with my middle school and high school track athletes, I reminded them that learning good jumping technique is a process. I was met with a few feisty glares.
I understand these reactions, because as I work to write my first book I’m constantly eyrolling and glaring at my own reminders to take it a step at a time and work through the process. Though I have years of writing experience under my belt, I’m a novice at authoring a book. You’d think I’d understand that it will take some trial and error to figure things out, but no, I approached the project with the expectation that I should automatically know how to do it. Rather than embrace the process, I’ve started and stopped several times because it wasn’t going the way I expected. I wasn’t immediately successful, and it irked me.
Is this resistance cultural? Is it generally a human tendency? I’m not sure as I haven’t spent time researching this element. But I do know that resistance to learning is a cause for frustration. Where it’s true that we don’t know what we don’t know and we can’t do what we can’t do, we’d overwhelmingly rather roll our eyes than do the work it takes to learn and to master.
Success comes not in hiding our weaknesses, but in first admitting our lack of knowledge, understanding or skill and then embracing the process of learning. The new grass patches might be splotchy at first, but with time, practice and help, I have hope that the “its” of our processes will eventually turn into a nice, even spring green.
Malinda Just has been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008. To read more of her writing, visit her blog, www.malindajust.com, or find her on social media @MalindaDJust.