I saw the above image with the text, “2018 Goal: Stay calm in all situations.” and I was immediately irritated! Ha-ha! I’m sure the intention of the text isn’t for us to aspire to be emotionally stoic robots, but damn if it didn’t feel that way at first encounter. It reminded me right away of a time when I worked for one of the largest and most worshipped tech companies in the world. I was on a lunch break in my usual dark corner of the cafeteria and had received a text message with sad news. I usually read a book while eating, so I’m sure my facial expressions were ever changing. The following day I was lectured for 45 minutes by my immediate supervisor for looking sad and was instructed to compartmentalize and to never appear emotional at all ever. UGH! Infuriating!
I’ve often gotten into hot water in work situations for caring “too much”, but I now see it as an asset. My intuition has steered me clear of many of life’s pitfalls, though certainly not all. People trust me and come to me for a variety of reasons, but my honesty and compassion are usually at the top of any list. It is difficult to remain honest and empathetic, let alone compassionate, in a large corporation or your typical office politics filled environment, but it is why I am so good at what I do. I wear all the hats, help anyone who needs it, and make things happen! After wrapping up my ninth phone interview for the week (whew!) I have had to talk about this and myself so much that it no longer feels like a sales pitch (yuck). It’s not bragging if it’s true, if it’s your actual reputation, and you can back it up in a heartbeat.
What about when the shit hits the fan? What about when your personal or professional life is falling apart? What about when you lose someone? What about mental health issues? You have no obligation to remain calm in the face of personal or professional tragedy. You do not have to be the calm face of serenity when life throws a bushel of bullshit in your face. You just don’t! You’re a multi-faceted individual, not a robot! People fear emotions because they feel the need to be in constant control, that’s not realistic. It’s certainly nowhere near an authentic existence. We should be supporting each other instead of shaming one another. Ugh!
The very concept of being expected to hold it all together, to appear calm in the face of danger or dramatic life shifts, is just wrong! Our brains are wired by nature and our environment. When it reacts to something in our world that brings about emotion, we should be paying attention, not tamping it all down or bottling it up. That is a recipe for eventual disaster! Our brains and bodies react to stress to ensure our survival. It’s not about appearing weak or unprofessional (fuck that!), it’s about finding the power and strength in our vulnerability and persevering in the face of life’s roadblocks.
“It’s okay not to be okay” was such a tough lesson for me to learn. It’s no coincidence who first brought that phrase and song into my life, as it was my dance partner, Tigress. I had been let go from yet another job and facing this new and scary thing that was our first dance performance. It was the first time I’d be on a stage in 17 years! I was fucking terrified! Tigress got it, but she insisted that it was okay and you can just be not okay when you need to. Hearing that was such a game changer! We chose that song by Jesse J for our first performance and we’ve been performing for over five years together now. Her friendship continues to broaden, inspire, and bring so much goodness into my life.
I was talking with my BFF about some major life changes they’ve been working through. They’re moving to another state and leaving their job. We have supported each other through so much in life, though we live so far apart. We’ve been there to cheer each other on through moves and divorces, breakdowns and health crisis, but at every turn, it just never feels easier. And ya know, it doesn’t necessarily have to, either. They were powering through but feeling that depression would soon seep in and I just knew exactly what they meant. My response?
“Sometimes, when depression is tapping me on the shoulder, I’m just like, ‘Hey dude, what’s new?!’ and kind of just fucking embrace it like an old, holey sweater. Sometimes it’s just easier and almost helps me get through in a weird way.”
“This is why I love you! LOL” They replied
“Probably the worst advice ever.” I said
“Nah” they said
“New big shit is hard. Depression is familair and I can navigate the uncomfortable things because it will just feel like regular coping. Is that the most fucked up?” I half jokingly, but really not, responded
“LOL! No! It makes perfect sense.” they replied
There is something so perfectly, nonsensically, and necessarily human in falling apart. I no longer see it as something to fear or be ashamed of. Every time I have fallen apart or broken down it has been the best thing in the end. It leads to a purge of old ways of thinking and an opening to new things and people. It is both an end and a beginning. It is brutal and beautiful. I say embrace the hell out of it, knowing that growth and a better you will be on the other side. Baby steps are perfectly fine. One step is great! More will follow and you will get through it. Just don’t hide from it!
I hate how society treats human emotions. It’s not weak, but it’s branded as weak because of those who are truly afraid of having an authentic feeling touch them. To be moved, deeply, within our very souls, must be a terrifying concept to someone who places far too much self-worth and stock in feeling as though they can or need to control every aspect of their lives. Baby, that ain’t living! That is living in fear, with only avoidance and shame as your defenses. *Shivers* No thank you!
I may walk a path others wouldn’t. I may make choices and decisions for myself that others would find mind-boggling. I am not here to live for them or to make sense, quite frankly. I choose human connection, deeper connections, over networking and appearing to have it all together. I don’t keep up appearances for others or try to hide my many flaws. If anything I almost flaunt what is “wrong” with me in the face of a society that would prefer I’m hidden away in shame and misery. I wear my misery like a badge of honor! I highlight my flaws with sequins and knit fabrics pulled taut by every lump, bump, and rolls of my body and mind.
We can absolutely choose to feel every feeling that comes to show up the way to our true path. We can create a life that serves to move us further along our journey and find those along the way that prefer to be authentic, too! We don’t have to fall in line or fit into something we had no part in creating or agreeing to try to be subservient to. Being ashamed or hiding from the softer or more difficult moments in our lives isn’t what will serve us in the end. People live with regret because of not feeling connected, and avoiding vulnerability with those they love. I think love, in it’s purest form, is a powerful and vulnerable thing.
Life may rarely seem to make sense, but it can teach us so much if we just choose to be present, and listen. That includes listening to our own intuition and being aware of our feelings, embracing and facing them, even when it may be frowned upon. There is no need to apologize for what is natural and necessary. You can shine a light on your strength and power by allowing whatever may come, just come. It’s okay not to be okay. And breaking down is just a way for us to find a better path to our purpose. Be you!
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