Practicing lots of self-care this week as I transition from my primary role being a student to my primary role being a full-time employee. Been doing a lot of reflection on the process of getting here. I found a quote from my paper journal that says, “If 2017 was a year of shedding, 2018 is the year of building.” It is true. I can see now more than ever that we are often our own blocks, and things come through for us only when we’re clear and we’ve cleared. I had to take the time to shed and clear in order to create the new.
A lot of what I had to clear were all the false constructs my ego and my culture had set up to protect me from a broken heart. To keep me small and safe and unseen.
A quote from Joseph Campbell: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
This idea has been very important to my journey. I was talking with my coach the other day about “Shadow Resumes”–all the things in our biographies we can’t talk about in job interviews. I was telling him how sure, my CV looks pretty nice. But there’s a lot on there, a lot of darkness and struggles, that until I faced, I couldn’t move forward. If you ever feel stuck in the same old rut, repeating old cycles over and over, this may be true for you as well.
On that note, another coach I follow said we often find our purpose in life when we identify our deepest wounds and begin healing them. This has been true for me. You see, in 2004 I was accepted into only one college that I applied to. It was a true safety school. I didn’t actually want to go. I was debating what to do, pretending I was okay and everything was fine, when Oxford College of Emory emailed and asked if I’d like to go there. That was a pure stroke of luck.
My resume says Emory University. It doesn’t say I was basically rejected by every college I applied to. For a girl whose entire sense of self and self-worth was wrapped up in her Good Student identity, this was a crushing, devastating blow–the first of many.
Impostor syndrome set in early, even though I wouldn’t have those words and the understanding that came with them until almost a decade later. I started telling myself a lot of stories about what a loser I was, how undeserving I was. How I didn’t belong and how I needed to work really hard to prevent the world from finding out. And I told myself those stories for a really long time.
I wish I could reach back in time and give that version of myself a big hug.
Looking back on my college experience, I can see how totally traumatized I was. At the time, I said I was fine. But in retrospect, from a more objective viewpoint, it’s clear to me that I was in deep pain that I couldn’t acknowledge. I even inflicted pain on myself in various ways, especially via relationships, because I thought that’s what I deserved.
In owning my deep wound of rejection, of not being good enough, or smart enough, or of belonging, I have been able to begin to work through it instead of finding myself in strange, repeating cycles of it. And in healing it, I found my calling. I also found self-acceptance, self-love, and peace. I am at home with myself.
It’s funny because UNC is one of the colleges that rejected me. UNC had been my first choice. I applied Early Decision. I wanted so badly to be a Tarheel. And now my job is to coach some of the most promising UNC students through their own impostor syndrome and help them find self-worth and direction. (Insert sobbing emoji here.)
Heal your wound, find your purpose. Come home to yourself.
Face your dark feelings. Don’t fight them. Go into the cave and find the treasure you seek.
Some people say there are six core wounds: Repression, Denial, Shame, Rejection, Guilt, and Isolation. If you can figure out what triggers you to act or to numb, where your perception of the world or your behavior comes from, you can start to heal it. It probably began with something in childhood or adolescence. You might not even have been super conscious that it was as big a deal as it has turned out to be.
What is the darkest part of yourself that you avoid at all costs?
We avoid it because a broken heart hurts. But if you knew that it was influencing your whole life, would you do something about it? Could you face it if you trusted that feelings are just energy passing through our bodies, that they are all impermanent, that they won’t actually break you? In fact, owning all parts of yourself, good and bad, will make you whole again.
I also did not realize that I would find my true power when I released or simply let go–when I stopped resisting, when I stopped trying so damn hard, looking for the struggle in everything, trying to be all the perfect things I thought I should be. When I let my rigidity become softness, when I just said “this is who I’ve been and this is who I am becoming,” everything started happening in this really beautiful, easy way.
For many years, when I opened my eyes in the morning, I felt a small tinge of regret that I hadn’t somehow passed away in my sleep. I felt exhausted at the prospect of dragging myself through another day. Now when I wake up, I feel excited about the possibilities each day holds for me and I can’t wait to get started.
My main obstacle has always been me. And one day, I just got tired of fighting me. I let go. I stopped fighting. And everything came together like magic.