When my colleague knocked on my office door earlier this week, I could barely keep it together. As soon as she saw the tears and trembling lips, she opened her arms, and then asked what was wrong.
“I don’t know, I’ve been crying all morning, and I don’t even know why. It’s not like I’m hormonal right now.” I threw up my arms and started venting or whining as I often like to berate myself.
There were many reasons to cry, I had deduced, but they all pointed to one thing: I felt like an absolute failure – that I had failed my life, and there was no way to remedy it.
Here are the reasons why I thought my life was a complete failure:
- I am alone
- I have an insurmountable amount of debt that is continually growing
- I only have two close friends nearby, both of who I work with
- My blood sugar levels have been all over the place, and no matter how hard I try, they will never be perfect
- I feel like I’m gaining weight even though I’m eating right and exercising daily
- I’m far away from family and any kind of safety net
- I have a chronic disease that only adds to my monthly expenses and that I will continue to have to manage for the rest of my life
- I am already burnt out at my job, and I am no longer writing like I used to
- Although my work has some meaning, I’m not saving the world or helping those in need; I’m giving nothing back
I feel like I have failed. And for the past week after leaving family in Kentucky post-Derby, I felt the loss of that safety net, that community of support that may just get me by when money and work is getting me down.
And it’s not like I’m trying. It’s not like I’m sitting in a corner of my room waiting to die. I’m putting myself out there day in and day out, and I feel like it’s not worth it, that I’m not getting anything in return, and that my life has become a monotonous routine of stress but no joy.
But then I attended this leadership conference on Friday. I was a part of the committee that helped promote it. I was a part of the leadership team of the organization that hosted it. And I was assigned to a workshop on self-expression for live tweeting.
I didn’t expect much from this workshop, but in the end, it did force me to re-evaluate my outlook on life. I had been trying unsuccessfully to do that for the past week to get out of this depressive, self-centered slump. The speaker asked us: What’s in the way of doing what you want to do? If it wasn’t in the way, what would be possible for you?
Many people, like myself, cited money and security as the thing in the way of their passions and dreams. And many people there (maybe because they were all coming from nonprofits) wanted to do something better for the world and the people in it, but their own financial stability got in the way. We didn’t necessarily come to any resolutions, but it helped put some things in perspective.
So that on Saturday when I looked at that list again, I had some responses:
I am alone…
But I am putting myself out there and making connections every day; I am more myself among strangers than I have ever been.
I have an insurmountable amount of debt that is continually growing…
But I am making payments on that debt; I have a roof over my head; I can go out to eat if I want to; and my years of education have given me the knowledge and skillset to go farther in my career and one day give back to the world that shaped me.
I only have two close friends nearby, both of whom I work with…
But I have maintained good connections with the rest of my close friends, and I now have friends all over the world.
My blood sugar levels have been all over the place, and no matter how hard I try, they will never be perfect…
But my average levels are just fine, and I cannot control everything; I can only do the best I can with what I have.
I feel like I’m gaining weight even though I’m eating right and exercising daily…
I’d rather be running every day than underweight.
I’m far away from family and any kind of safety net…
But with technology they are only a Skype call or text away, and it’s not that hard to visit twice a year.
I have a chronic disease that only adds to my monthly expenses and that I will continue to have to manage for the rest of my life…
But I am not dying, and again with technology, managing it may become easier over time.
I am already burnt out at my job, and I am no longer writing like I used to…
But I am still maintaining this blog, and I have a lot of opportunity for growth at my job if I stick with it and find other avenues to express myself.
Although my work has some meaning, I’m not saving the world or helping those in need; I’m giving nothing back…
Every time I volunteer, I am giving something back; every time I make a connection, I am giving something back.
Every day I survive with this disease and write about it, I am giving something back.