It starts off slow. You wake up and don’t want to go to work. You look at the people surrounding you and don’t really like what you see. You face yourself in the mirror- You’ve aged. Your eyes are dull and bloodshot, your skin is broken out, you’ve gained weight, and you’re running on energy drinks and fast food. Your body feels like a walking check engine light on a car 10,000 miles past its oil change date. Your voice becomes laced with bitterness and sarcasm. It crashes down on you that you are miserable and hate what your life has become. You feel lost, not sure where to start or how to go about fixing your life.
This portrait is what I saw when I looked at myself in the mirror four years ago. I had overcommitted myself to a project that I thought would fast-track my career. Instead, it led me to the edge of a mental breakdown and destroyed my confidence. I had aced the project and “saved the day” earning a pat on the back from upper management. I figured a promotion was in the bag. As I faced someone I looked up to as a mentor/work hero, asking for a promotion- they started asking me questions. Questions about how I was and where I was at. The carefully placed armor I held in front of me started to crack. The final question that shattered the armor was- “You need to figure out how to balance your life and what motivates you”. I remember sitting at that conference table, destroyed. Trying to wrap my head around how what should have been a slam dunk had turned into a face plant.
In true redheaded cowgirl fashion, I don’t always handle a letdown in the best manner. I started to spiral. We will fast forward through the months of depression/partying to numb the pain and just say that my life was a mess. I had always accomplished my goals, knocked the ball out of the park, pleased everyone around me, and won the leadership roles. So, to hear (what in my mind) equated to “Hard work + saving the day” didn’t automatically earn me a leadership role and a fat promotion, blew my 26-year-old mind.
Sis, that one sentence that felt like a door slamming in my face was truly a blessing. Hindsight being 20/20, it was also one of the best pieces of advice I have been given and led me on an incredible journey.
That slammed door propelled me to start figuring out exactly who I am. I grew up as the overachieving “Golden” child, and that label chased me into my career. My identity was my work and ability to solve other people’s problems. I did not know how to function outside of being the person who took responsibility for everything and everyone. If you had a problem, “Yo I’d solve it”- even if it wasn’t my business and had nothing to do with me. This mentality that I had to be “it” for everyone was the birthplace of my anxiety, and this idea that I had to fix other people’s lives/problems cost me quite a few friends.
I wish I could tell you that I looked in the mirror four years ago, realized I needed a change and that the sky opened, Angels came out playing harps, roses fell around me, and my life has been rainbows and sunshine ever since……. but we both know that is horse poo. Working on yourself is hard. It will require you to take a long hard look at where you are and decide you deserve better. It is failing, getting back up, and trying again. It is four long years of knowing that you do not like where you are at, you are not quite sure how to change it, but you know you need to keep going until you figure it out.
I know the anguish of praying and feeling- “God, why me? Is this ever going to end?”. This time is a Season Sis, and he’s using it to grow you. You are going to wake up in a house you love to live in, going to a job you enjoy getting up to go to, surrounded by people who love you for you, and it’s going to click. The hard times were for you, not against you, Sis.
Let these hard times create sparks of belief, that roar into the fire that clears the path for you to become the most beautiful and true version of yourself. I am ready to watch you emerge from the ashes- bold, brave, beautiful, and in love with this new life you have created, Are you?
The Ranchy Redhead