Lately, I’ve been struggling a lot. I’m working hard on my book, Mastering Stress and I’m preparing for a new experience of speaking. It’s fun work and I enjoy it but I do spend most of my time alone, in my sanctuary, working.
Last year I interviewed a lot of people for my book and I found it really energizing. I loved connecting with new people and hearing about their stress-related stories. As an introvert, I don’t do small talk well. I prefer meaningful, deeper conversations about things that really matter. And these interviews served a real need to connect and have a shared human experience with others.
I think I’m quite lonely spending all day writing or preparing a speech. I need to connect with others and to infuse their energy into my life and my day. I want to schedule more interviews but it is a struggle to phone a stranger and ask for an hour of their time. I will overcome this but it is just difficult for me in the place where I am.
When I attend a function with a lot of people, it feels strange to me. I don’t watch the news and I’m not interested in commiserating about the government’s failings or the economy. I find I have little to say when it comes to current affairs as I have no interest and I’m not willing to fake it. I am interested in real people, personal growth and hard challenges. I’m interested in adversity and how it shapes people. This is not often dinner time conversation.
I’m not in a corporate job and I feel very removed from the politics and challenges that take place in large organizations. To be honest, I’m happy to be free from all of that and I don’t see myself ever going back to work at a corporate. It’s hard for me to comment or connect with what happens in the workplace these days and much of it feels inauthentic and so removed from what matters most to me. It’s hard for me to participate in these conversations.
I don’t feel that I belong anywhere. I don’t belong in the working world and I don’t belong with the parents at school functions and parties who want to drink tequila until the early hours of the morning. I have been so sick that I had to learn how to take care of myself and my body. I honor my body and what it needs. It doesn’t need tequila.
I don’t belong around my extended family because they don’t know what I’m all about. They don’t see my struggle, my journey or my calling. They can’t understand what I’m trying to achieve. I don’t belong with school friends because I’ve change too much.
The only place I really belong is at home, with my children. I love my children and they have struggles that are real and challenging. But I feel like a housewife if I spend all night talking about my children’s challenges.
I don’t even belong at my yoga studio. Over the years I’ve improved a lot and I’m now comfortable with the postures. I’m always friendly and I show an interest in people’s lives. But lately, I’ve realized that no-one shows an interest in me or my life. In fact, I’m often ignored and it feels awful. I would like to be my usual cheerful, open self. If I do that, I feel rejected but if I don’t (and close up to protect myself), I’m not being authentic. You would think that a yoga studio of all places would be somewhere one felt comfortable having an open heart, or maybe just good manners.
I recently read Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness, about true belonging. She says this: “Belonging to ourselves means being called to stand alone – to brave the wilderness of uncertainty, vulnerability and criticism.” I guess I need to learn to stand alone and to belong to myself.
I often wonder if people look at me and wonder what happened. I used to be a top performer at work. I used to be really good at my job and I held such promise. I used to be ambitious and have dreams of rising through the ranks in large corporations. That doesn’t interest me anymore but it doesn’t mean I don’t have big dreams.
I want to reach a lot of people with my message about living your best life possible. I want to speak to large audiences and sell millions of books. It’s easier said than done. Building a name and a brand takes time and I often feel frustrated that it’s going so slowly. It has taken time for me to crystallize my message and to be clear on who I serve. And of course, that might change slightly over time depending on opportunities that come my way and that fit with my life purpose.
So at the moment, it looks like I’m a mom who doesn’t work or do much. It looks like I’m failing and to be honest, it feels like that a lot too. I mess up in social settings because I’m rusty and I’m lonely. I try too hard, I say stupid things and I offend people. When that happens, I just want to retreat into my little hole and never come out.
I try to be kind to myself and to practice what I preach, but it’s hard. I try to focus on the work at hand (my book) and maintain hope that it will be more successful than the last one. But, what if it’s not? What if I’m looking at many more years of obscurity and loneliness? What if I’ll never attain any level of success in what I’m doing?
I can’t go back to who I was before I burnt out. I’m changed. I can’t be inauthentic or do work that I don’t like. I’m too far gone. I’ve moved down this path too far to go back to my former self. So, how do I move forward knowing that I might never be successful or accomplish what feels like the impossible?
I know I’m feeling sorry for myself and the energy I put out impacts how others respond to me. Maybe it’s all a mirror of what’s happening inside. Maybe I need to learn to belong to myself, to love myself and to accept the whole package, flawed and all. Maybe I need to find ways of connecting with people again that feels authentic and rewarding.