I have had versions of this post in my drafts folder for over a week. I deleted it. I reposted it. Deleted it again.
I care what you think, even though I pretend that I don’t. I am afraid that what I write here will be held against me later. Our profession preaches that “people are watching you” and “be careful what you say on social media.” We say this while also talking out the other side of our mouths, preaching about authenticity.
I got on this morning to post. I deleted it again. And then the universe sent me messages.
This from Amy Morin, LCSW @AmyMorinLCSW on twitter: “Mentally strong people don’t give away their power. Take responsibility for how you think, feel, and behave. #mentallystrong #mentalhealth”
And then this from Momastery:
I’ve been writing directly from my heart less often than I used to. I think I just started putting weird pressure on myself. This place has gotten so big, and over time I convinced myself that everything I wrote needed to be shiny and shareable and big and amazing (emphasis mine). So I started writing essays instead of love letters. Meh. That’s not what we need all the time is it? We just need to show up for each other. Tired, full, broken, sparkling heart to tired, full, broken, sparkling heart. (emphasis mine.) I am not here to prove myself, I’m here to serve you. Biggest difference in the world. Proving ourselves is full of angst and fear and striving and exhaustion. Showing up is just: Hi. Here I am. There you are. This is what I have to offer you today. Nothing more, nothing less (emphasis mine). I want to work from a place of service, not ego. Shift, shift, shift. Better. Truer.
Showing up > Showing Off.
So anyway, here I am. I’m going to write directly to you once a week. Nothing fancy. Just: Here I Am. Also sometimes I won’t. No problem.
This is what I want to say today. It will make some people upset. I’m sorry about that, but I’ve thought about it for a week and I still think it’s important to say. If it helpful for you, keep it. If not—please reject it and hold onto whatever understanding brings you comfort.
So I am taking a deep breath and hitting publish. I am using my power and sharing it, instead of giving it away. This post is not shiny. “Look, passion!” It’s broken. It’s real.
What I have to offer is this: Applying for jobs and being rejected is hard. It’s okay if you spiral. I was rejected from yet another position in my “profession.” I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. I cried. (In private of course.) Then I cried at home. I screamed. I threw some stuff (that was really fun, actually). I went deep into the shame spiral. Deep. Because despite what we do for students, we do not do for ourselves…I blamed myself and felt shame for being rejected. This is what it looked like:
I suck. This sucks. You all suck. This profession sucks. I played by the rules. I did everything right. It still doesn’t matter. Why did I get this PhD? What a waste. I am trapped here. I hate this.
I tortured myself for spiraling, which of course only leads to more spiraling. Why do I go to the darkness first? Why aren’t I a person who brushes off disappointment and instantly rallies?
Psst, Monica. Psst. Hey! You are a person who brushes off disappointment and you do rally. It’s only been 8 days since you were crushed. That’s really not that long. I’d say eight days is a rally.
Talking to the important people in my life- my husband, my mentor, my therapist, and God- brought me back to reality and pulled me out of the shame spiral. Doing those things helped me remember this: Everyone spirals. Read that again. Everyone spirals.
Resilience is a continuum. Resilient people rally because they are smart enough to know when they need help and they reach out for it.
Resilient people rally because they “embrace the suck” rather than denying it. In short, “Embracing the suck” means acknowledging the situation that you are in to reduce it’s length and it’s power over you. For more on “embracing the suck,” read here and listen here.
I finally finished this post because I reminded myself that lying about the suck dishonors my experience and my victory over the struggle. I pulled myself out of the depressive shame spiral. I willed myself out of it. And I had help. That victory will give me strength to face the next one. Because there will be a next one. There always is.
We learn more from heartbreak and mistakes than we do from success. So let’s be more committed to sharing them. This profession will break your heart at some point. How could it not? We’re humans in a human enterprise. Humans make mistakes. We hurt each other. We hurt ourselves. Life isn’t fair. Other people get picked. You get rejected from grad school. Your friend throws you under the bus. It happens. Let’s be honest about it and let others share their own sucks. It’s a disservice to them and our profession to not let them.
Life isn’t fair. The best we can hope for is justice.
Justice, wine, and chocolate.