A grant proposal brings self-awareness

2011 January 24
by Kirsten

Last week, as I shipped off 200-some pages in a grant proposal — binder clipped into four copies, with two electronic versions on CDs — I heaved a huge sigh of … anxiety. And then I took in a few more quick breaths and realized the relief wasn’t coming.

This was my first grant to write since going freelance. While I appreciated the structure, specific requirements, rigid deadline and the familiar territory of answering each question thoroughly yet concisely, those things were also the source of my stress.

My personality is one that people either relate to or abhor. I’ve always followed the rules, lived to please authority and done what is “right” — according to the people I’m around. Unfortunately, I’ve found my identity in knowing what people expect from me and delivering that plus a little dollop extra for pride’s sake. People who can relate to that know the unhealthy focus it puts on pleasing others and on performing. Those who can’t, think I’m a goody-two-shoes who never takes a risk or thinks for herself.

Guilty on all counts.

This grant project brought it all to the surface. Instead of saying “Sayonara!” and happily shipping that motherload to D.C., I fretted and worried. What if I missed something? What if I forgot something? What if I (gasp) made a mistake? If my identity is in following the rules, there is no excuse for anything short of perfection. That’s the thing I’m good at. … Yuck.

This revelation has reminded me that I’m not defined by what I do and what I do well. Or by my mistakes. I stifle my own growth and opportunities by holding the rules as my guide, and not God. What freedom comes from realizing the old ways of doing things don’t have to be my ways anymore! Ah, sweet relief.

I realize the overall grossness of me making this grant proposal and process all about me — and not about God who gave me the ability and opportunity to write — and that I record this on a blog that’s named after me, with a picture of me at the top. Way too much me going on here. Not sure what to do about that.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. January 26, 2011

    Kirsten, thank you so much for writing that. I am in the middle of something very similar, and there was so much depth and insight in what you just wrote. I knew God was directing me to your blog today, and now I see why. Praise God! Praise Him that he puts up with our behavior, no matter how “annoying,” “frustrating,” or “disgusting” it may be to others or ourselves. I have been working through my identity being in what I do, and how I do it. Nursing seems to be a similar field. Things really must be done perfectly, if they’re not you could kill someone or loose your license, or damage your reputation. So my identity has come from “Look how well and how perfect and how compassionately I do my job! Isn’t it fantastic that I’m an inperfect person and I’m doing a perfect job? Is it good enough? Does this make you like me?” Meeeee!!! Anyway, I made a big med error at work, and I thought my world had ended. Suddenly I found myself begging for God’s rule book of forgiveness, grace, and what He thought of me. And my world didn’t end. God patiently reminded who’s rules and who’s identity I was to be following. And how much better it was than my own. Anyway, still processing, thank you for what you do, and how you’ve been called to do it.
    xox.

  2. January 26, 2011

    Thanks for the encouragement, Katy! I’m glad you could relate to this … and especially that you’re finding the truth about who you are!

    I was hesitant to post this, thinking that current or potential clients don’t care about my personal dilemmas or growth — they just want to know that I can get the job done. That’s the sticky part of having my personal blog on my business site, but I moved it here so I wouldn’t compartmentalize my life. … still figuring things out. Anyway, just glad you liked it :)

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