I remember how walking into a room full of people use to feel. When the anticipation of engaging in conversation excited me, motivated me, lit me up. I still couldn’t get myself there; it was like the light switch went off inside me.
At the time, I didn’t notice when or why it had happened. I remember feeling repulsed by the idea of small talk and irrelevant exchange between people who didn’t really matter to me. I know it sounds harsh; it’s still hard to write. Should have been the first sign, since I’m typically a very outgoing and social person.
I’ve blamed it on being a working mom (sounds fair and incontestable); motherhood is the most exhausting job on the planet, right? Pulled in a million directions, putting everyone’s needs before my own, a tiresome output of energy lacking enough time for rest and solitude. Sounds very victim-y of me, I know, but it’s exactly where I was. Something wasn’t right and deep down I knew it. My perception of the outside world had changed and on the inside I felt guarded, anxious and fearful.
For as comfortable as I had become with abandoning meaningful connection in my life, I am thankful to have noticed something was missing. This past year has brought much revelation around the explanation of who I was or more importantly who I was not. I believe this is a testament to being in the right place at the right time, with the right people.
Two things have helped change the course for me. At work, I began showing up more—physically and emotionally. And, in this time I was exposed to an incredible philosophy of looking at life and work differently through a leadership program based on the principles of ninjaselling.com. This program is where my awareness began to grow. I started questioning my intentions in life, what I wanted and where I was headed. I was treading water; I had gotten too comfortable with what was safe. And as the weight of fear, anxiety and discontentment began to resurface, I saw for the first time how they were holding me back.
I remember first hearing about living with a scarcity vs. abundant mindset and believing I had it all figured out. Scarcity didn’t show up until I started looking closer at the little places in life—my reaction to a change in weekend plans, the rage from Ava dropping a bowl of cereal on the carpet when I’d asked her to eat at the table, my impatience with Carson that sent me walking away as he threw himself down in a crying fit, frustrated in his inability to communicate his needs. A fear of the unknown or “what if” would derail me for days; I was defensive and on-edge in the day-to-day interaction with my family. The more I looked for it, the more scarcity showed up. It was in the small choices I was making, much more dangerous and insidious than I was aware.
It was the book DaringGreatly where I began really learning and understanding the why’s of how I had become so closed. It brings comfort to put words on feelings; this book was the invitation for me to get the courage to forgive myself and move beyond it. I learned about the danger of disengagement and the compound effect it can have in a slow erosion of relationships over time. I’m thankful to recognize that this is exactly where I was in my work, my marriage and parenting. Engaging with people half-heartedly was dangerous for me and easy to do; I had gotten good at hiding it and could see how dim the light in me had become because of it.
When I think about how it will be different moving forward as I navigate through difficult and uncertain times in life, I will spend less time with my eyes closed, holding my breath, waiting for it all to pass. Less time blaming myself, less time blaming others. I will spend more time talking about the fear and discomfort while reaching out to the support around me. I will spend more time in the middle of it all, present, aware, and engaged in the solution.
There is a deep conviction in me that believes the energy and authenticity of how I engage and connect with people around me depends greatly on my ability to show up in the day-to-day, smaller places of life. This is my advantage, my greatest resource. And while it is a daily commitment, an ongoing challenge, it will allow me to push and grow in new directions; further than I’d go alone.