The process for becoming a licensed architect in California used to require a person to have a degree, three years of experience, and then take eight competency tests, and then after passing those, the person was required to go before a board and pass an oral examination. The requirements have changed now, but when my husband was getting his license, this was the process.
The first time my husband went to take his oral examination he didn’t pass. He had already been working as an architect for many years but in order to go to the next step he needed his license. After one failure, he told me he wasn’t going to try again. I listened to all the details of his oral examination and I knew it was just a combination of things that went wrong that prevented him from passing.
I asked my husband to take the oral test one more time. My husband was very reluctant, but I told him all the things I thought went wrong, and how I knew he could easily overcome them (his knowledge of architecture was not the problem). I told my husband that if he failed a second time, I would never ask him to take it again. My husband got up the courage and energy to try one more time.
When the envelope arrived in the mail with his test results, I didn’t wait for him to get home. I couldn’t. I had to know if he had passed. I knew he could do it, but I also knew that if something had gone wrong, he was never going to get his license. I cried when I opened that envelop and immediately went about making a door sized sign that I taped to the outside of our condo that said, “Welcome Home Mr. Architect.” He knew before he hit the door, that he had passed.
Last week my husband and I spent five days in Flagstaff Arizona at a writer’s conference. I was having a terrible time with my anxiety and made plans to leave the conference and Flagstaff a couple of days early. My husband knew that I was feeling defeated by my inability to overcome my anxiety and sit through the panels. Every day, I had to call my husband to pick me up early.
Instead of make plans to drive home early, my husband asked me to give the conference one last try. He said he would walk me to the panels and meet me when they let out. He told me he would even sit outside of the door if I wanted him to.
The symptoms of my illness do enough to disrupt our lives without having to stop attending writing conferences due to anxiety. Because going to conferences is important to developing my career and we made sacrifices and spent a lot of money to attend, I wanted to prove to my husband that going to conferences was not a waste of our resources. With all that in mind and some pushing and planning by my husband, I decided to give it one more try.
I breezed through the rest of the conference. I had a wonderful time, listened to some inspiring writers, met one of my favorite writers, and talked to editors and other writers while in passing.
In both situations my husband and I succeeded because someone believed in us and pushed us to give our dreams one more try. The importance of having someone be a cheerleader for you, and ask you to keep going when you are so ready to give up can’t be overstated.
I think we all need someone in our corner that asks us to take one more step toward our goals.
If you can be that person to someone with a mental illness, you may be the difference between them getting by and them really living. Helping someone to really live their life despite their challenges is a gift not only to the person’s life you will change, but to everyone.
When one person with a disability overcomes that disability, not only do they win, we all win. Let’s applaud those people that don’t give up on us even though we may have given up on ourselves.
Let’s all give it one more try.
Supporting hands photo available from Shutterstock