This blog has been this omniscient presence in my life these past couple of months, but you wouldn’t know it from the silence.
Here’s my big confession, and I’m ripping the band-aid off right away: I haven’t been thriving. I’ve been managing disappointments across a few aspects of my personal and professional life- in myself, in others, with the world, and more. Not really anything I feel like showcasing to the world, but as I continue my healing process, I realized I felt victim to the exact thing this blog is supposed to be about- thriving, feeling pressured to achieve it, and to be honest when it isn’t happening. I just kept thinking “How can I write about this when I can’t say I’m living it”. Which is, of course, completely absurd. But it took me a while to realize that. Thriving is a process, a goal, and one that is constantly fluctuating and filled with unexpected hurdles.
I became drowned in a cycle of feeling sorry for myself, feeling angry at myself for feeling sorry, and then feeling like if I talked to anyone about it, I was being annoying. I drove a few people away (most of which came back to me- I know some of the most patient and committed people in the world), imagined I was being annoying to a few people who would have helped me if I let them, and then did what so so many people do- pressured myself to act like everything was okay. I did that pretty poorly, though, I think. And I did it in silence, which I’m very glad to be breaking today.
Here’s What I’ve Learned:
1.) Feeling disappointed is okay. In spite of the privilege I carry, which really stopped me from honoring the hurt I was feeling, it is okay to be upset and angry and to allow yourself to feel that way…time, place, and manner, folks!
2.) Recognize that the personal and the professional are sometimes so deeply intertwined you don’t even know when they’re going to connect in ways you didn’t see coming. In a field that believes profoundly in connecting the two, sometimes bringing the two together can be more difficult than you’d think!
3.) Resiliency is a skill that needs exercising. During training, one of my RAs shared with me during a Strengths session that her strength of being an Achiever means that not only does she always apply for something, when she doesn’t get something, the way she responds is by shrugging, saying “oh, well!” and immediately starting again. While my challenges were different from applications, I realized this skill of “bouncing back” isn’t one I, or many of my colleagues in student affairs, always have. I’ve been working on this but man, I am such a millenial.
4.) Focusing on the positive is helpful but must not replace the negatives too. Some really great stuff happened too- I moved to an exciting new place, I got to explore places I’ve never been, I’ve made at least three new friends, I’ve deepened other friendships and bonds, and I bought a couple cute new dresses, too! It is okay to appreciate the wins and mourn the losses at the same time.
5.) Writing about it helps. I drafted the first version of this post a week ago, and it was quite different from this. I still have the handwritten piece, which I’ll store for myself. Drafts are okay- rarely are things perfect the first, second, or third time around. In fact, they usually aren’t even when you publish. That is fine. Like many authors, I also do not publish much of what I’ve written. Just because I have this forum doesn’t mean I have to publish every draft.
Getting my thoughts out, remembering the power of vulnerability, and expressing myself in a medium that is meaningful to me are what I need to heal, and it’s time to remember that a bit more.
Overall, the process continues. But this is a pretty solid step in the right direction for me, I think.