At my 9-5 gig, I was discussing ways to improve the morale in our local San Francisco office with our Chief People Officer (CPO, yep, that’s a thing. So cool, right?).
For several months, employees in a different department than my own had been working crazy OT and quickly diving head first into burning out. They were getting bitter over the lack of communication, that the end was most definitely NOT in sight, and the fatigue.
With a history in the Army, I’m not surprised our CPO mentioned resiliency.
Sure, life requires resiliency. To be able to recover quickly from difficulties takes a mental and sometimes physical toughness. To persevere despite hardships and bounce back is somewhat of a learned behavior.
But I question the general assumption that everyone has a similar threshold for resilience. Like any muscle, resiliency grows through flexing it while overcoming trials. But when is it too much?
We tabled the resiliency discussion, promising to pick it up later this summer. In the meantime, we’d keep paying OT, providing dinners and breakfasts for those that stayed late or came in early, and giving a day off here and there.
Moving on, his next question to me was, “Do you feel appreciated?”
Those words cut through me and I immediately blurted out, “No!,” followed by a downpour of tears.
I did not expect to break so easily.
I may not have been experiencing the stress and long hours of my coworkers, but I was experiencing burn out as a working, single parent, trying to juggle it all well.
Sometimes being the mom is being the most underappreciated person in the room, especially when trying to do it all.
Also, as women, I don’t think we think about it until the question is asked point blank.
We do a lot – mentally and physically – and we don’t give ourselves credit. We keep forging ahead, resilient. Possibly too strong for our own good, as we carry heavy emotions, and most certainly too busy to stop and reflect, to feel and understand. We just keep trucking because we think that if we stop, all that we’ve built will crash.
This recent article from Motherly hit home for me.
“…85% of moms said that our society does not do a good job of supporting mothers.
Society is asking you to nurture in an environment that does not nurture you back.”
Through my divorce, moving, sick kids, and remote days, my 9-5 gig has accommodated many of my requests. Yet my schedule and commute keep me a slave to the corporate world.
Can you relate?
I feel this when I tell my daughters they can’t sign-up for a gymnastics class because the only times are at 3:30pm on weekdays when their mama is working.
I feel it when they’re sick at school and I ask them to wait because I’m nearly 30 miles away, dependent on a train schedule, and I’m the only one who can pick them up.
I feel it when I’m depleted from a long day and they sound more like the Peanuts mom, than my two hungry daughters.
Despite only needing and wanting love, compassion, trust, grace and an eager ear to listen about their unicorn art work, being a parent to young kids is exhausting.
Worth it, but the job is an all encompassing, 24/7, position
Yep, I’ve written about this before, but it begs repeating.
We don’t need to hide behind phrases such as, “I’m fine!” or identities of being “strong” or “resilient.”
We’re designed to have emotions and not be ok. To feel knocked down and discombobulated on occasion is part of the human condition.
However, we don’t need to wrestle through these emotions alone.
We need to speak up.
We need to ask for help.
We need to have conversations with our loved ones about the imbalance we feel.
We need to ask for raises.
We need to create better boundaries at work and at home to help us feel more sane.
We need to say no.
We need to rest.
We need to get outside.
We need to go on adventures.
We need to step away from the grind.
Two things I’d love for you to consider and put into practice this week:
We’re always evolving and growing. Recognize how far you’ve come and how much closer you are to the goal you’ve been chasing or the habits you’ve wanted to create in your life. If you haven’t listened to this interview with Michelle Obama, I highly recommend it. The whole thing is stellar but the first 5 minutes about Becoming, is priceless.
As noted above, when we aren’t giving ourselves credit, we aren’t celebrating the little victories. If we aren’t celebrating the little victories, we’re simply grinding. Head down, and grinding, all the damn time. Life is too short to not have fun and celebrate. I promise the celebration, even if it’s a short victory dance to your favorite song in your living room, will create more space for creativity, excitement and breakthrough.
What can you put into practice this week?
Where do you need to speak up in your life?
I saw this quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger:
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
Quotes like this on failure, especially coming from a man sometimes rub me the wrong way. However, I want to dissect it for a minute,
Our struggles are our story to share and to build bridges into the worlds of others. Hardships don’t have to translate into mustering up all of our strength to fight to the very end alone and barely get by.
Sometimes not surrendering equates to asking for help so that you don’t surrender to the darkness, to the loneliness, or pain.
Surrendering can mean surrendering your tendencies to hide and instead choosing vulnerability, allowing people to step into your life, to help light up the way, and to give you a purpose again.
I’ll say it again,
Give yourself grace.
Ask for help.
Write down your goals where you can see them everyday and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Baby steps, my friend! You’ve got this mama!
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