Nowhere to Arrive

I am a work in progress.

In my life, I feel I’ve always been on the way to somewhere; maybe I think this because I’ve been in school since I was five. I’ve always been striving to “arrive” somewhere –  to get to high school, to graduation, to college, to my first college final exams, to summer, to Regionals for Irish dance, to Christmas break, to Spain, to senior year, and finally to college graduation. But then what’s next? What’s next on the list of “getting to?” No one can tell you that. As an up and coming adult graduating from college, that is one of the big things that you have to figure out on your own. That’s one of the things that has been hard for me since graduating. I have often focused too much on where I am getting to, instead of what I have the opportunity to learn along the way; how I can make the most of being in process; and how I can enjoy the process. Here’s the thing – we are always and forever in process.

When I was hired and started working full time after graduation, I felt like I should have already “arrived;” I should have been an expert in my field, right? I should have had my young adult life figured out, right? I should have been completely independent and able to fend for myself, right? Wrong. Well, maybe half right. Yes, I needed to graduate with a degree in an area of interest. Yes, I needed to move out on my own and be a responsible adult. Yes, I needed to be independent. But, I did not need to be completely self-sufficient. As human beings, I believe we were created with a need for connection and community, and a need to be in process with other human beings. The value of this is something I am learning every single day.

In my daily life – work and personal as one, since they are essentially one in the same – I am beginning to internalize the idea that being in process is part of the job. It is not something I do outside of work in order to be better prepared for my job, although that is a piece of it; on the contrary, deepening my understanding alongside my team is encouraged, expected, and essential to our company culture. The notion of saving the imperfect and messy process for “home life” is an unrealistic societal expectation and slows or stops the uncovering of someone’s best self.

Sometimes I wish I could “arrive” somewhere. But that would be the easy and unfulfilling way. If I “arrived,” I might no longer have a need to learn from others or keep my heart open to the possibility of authentic relationships with others. Others-centeredness might not exist if all of us already know everything. I might then wonder if there is more to life, and the answer to that would be, yes, there is more. That’s why we are all a work in progress.

Being a work in progress can elicit opposing responses – willingness to learn, or constant frustration with yourself; patience and acceptance, or punishment; forgiveness, or an unrealistic standard. It is a choice, and often a difficult one, because you are, in a way, choosing how you will view perceived failures and expectations; you are choosing your mindset, how you want your life to look, and how you want to look at your life and the lives of others.

Before we can truly love others, we have to love ourselves. When your inner voice is telling you that you are not worth it, that you have not tried hard enough, that you are inadequate, you do have the power to tell it the truth (Danielle Krysa, Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk). None of us are perfect. We are allowed to be imperfect, so long as we recognize it as a truth, rather than as an excuse.

When you are frustrated that you are “not where you want to be,” in whatever way that manifests itself for you mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. – be encouraged. We are all in process. I encourage you to try writing down some truths about who you are and about your life.  Even if this seems small and insignificant, it can help shift your perspective back to where it belongs, if you are willing. “I am not always in control.” That’s my truth for today.

The Sunday Night Blues

I don’t know how other people experience this, or if they even do, but the “Sunday Night Blues” are a reality for me almost if not every week. I might enjoy “Sunday Night Blues,” if it was a weekly music event that promoted local artists, or something like that; however, in my own experience, The Sunday Night Blues are far less fun and enjoyable. They are the result of thoughts and emotions that build up because they are not properly dealt with in the moment.

I first experienced The Sunday Night Blues about eleven years ago, but I had no name to assign to it until now. My parents divorced when I was twelve years old, and after that, I grew up in a split home that I wished I could fix. I didn’t understand how this could happen in my home. I tried to make the most of the time I had with each parent, but being stuck in the middle of a two-sided story and switching houses every Monday morning made Sundays very difficult. Every insecurity, every fear, every feeling of inadequacy, would resurface every Sunday night, and when Monday morning came, a surplus of emotions would spill into my week. Some weeks were better than others, but the same issues continued to fester.

Especially when another person was added into the mix, I unhealthily bottled up feelings that I felt unsafe processing in the moment, and I felt like I never did enough, excelled enough, or tried enough, no matter how much I knew my parents loved me. I didn’t realize that this grew into a lack of trust in people. I felt I couldn’t even share everything that was on my mind with my own family, so how could I fully lay my heart out for others? Emotions remained in my head and in my heart because I wanted to not get hurt and to be perfect, since my family wasn’t. This was the beginning of my Sunday Night Blues.

I have been out of college for a year, and I have wondered why I still experience the Sunday Night Blues. I am working in a place that I love, surrounded by some of the most wonderful people I have ever met, and I have very little to worry about. I look forward to returning to work each day, and I now see weekends as breaks, rather than as precious commodities. I have wondered why Sunday nights are still difficult, despite these things.

At Tensility, we work to eliminate power and control, starting in our work community. I have learned that control manifests itself in different ways for different people, and it can rear its head when there exists some form of a threat, whether perceived or real. Remaining others-centered allows us to view the situation from an outside, more objective perspective, rather than an internal, subjective one.

Internalized ways of living and being are not easily uprooted or reversed. Emotions can turn into a certain kind of control over a person, and because I feel emotionally safer than I ever have, I have felt things I left untapped and untouched. I am finding out the hard way that being perfect is not possible, and there’s a difference between knowing this in your heart and knowing it in your head. Perfection might often be masqueraded as success, but for a perfectionist like myself, it is nice to know every once in a while that being imperfect is okay, even necessary.

Being imperfect allows me the freedom to be myself with others. The Sunday Night Blues happen when I forget or don’t have confidence that there are people I can trust. I forget that it’s okay to reach out. I forget that life is a process meant to be shared. When I forget, I withdraw instead of risk being authentic. This destroys connection and is not fair to others.

My challenge to everyone else who has experienced or currently experiences the Sunday Night Blues is to think about your personal reason for why it happens. When I was able to put words to what I felt, I gained a different perspective, and it was very freeing.