Well hey there readers! It has been a looong while since I’ve posted-almost a year, in fact. Time certainly flies!
It was a very strange year…It was around the last time I posted that I realized that happy feeling I had upon first starting the job was gone. And it wasn’t so much that I was unhappy with it-I still loved my job and what I did on a day-to-day basis. I wasn’t happy with me any more.
Something got lost over the summer-I don’t really know what it was. All of a sudden I felt very alone, and I no longer felt very confident. It’s like all the things that I had been battling that had been repressed came back, and I knew I needed to do something.
One particularly rainy duty weekend, I decided enough was enough and while I was waiting for the elevator repair man I looked up counselors in my area. I clicked on a few, but nothing seemed quite right. Then I came upon one that was promising, and so I found myself making an appointment. And I am so very glad that I did…because it only got worse from there.
One of my coworkers left around the end of October, which put more of a burden and pressure on the rest of us. My uncle died suddenly in the beginning of November as my second therapy appointment approached. His funeral was scheduled to be on the weekend of my birthday. Needless to say it was not a fun time. Right after that I attended the NASPA Regional Conference, which was great, but made it a whirlwind week and weekend. It was also right around this time that a couple of my staff members needed me for personal reasons, and looking back on it now I was probably too invested. I felt very alone, and it was nice to be needed.
I also began to date a little at this time and thought I had found someone that had all the qualities I’d been looking for. But there was no connection, no chemistry. I was confused because of how great he was. I gave it a shot but just couldn’t do it. I broke it off after our third date.
As you may imagine, I needed winter break badly. I had so many plans but I mostly hung around in my apartment because I couldn’t find the energy to get myself off of the couch. It was around this time I started to lose interest in the things that I loved to do. Playing music was hard. Writing was hard. Both of those things made me feel things I wanted and needed to block out. The only thing that interested me was reading and watching tv. So basically, when I needed to unwind, that’s what I did. This trend continued into the semester.
In February, two more of my colleagues got new jobs. That meant we were down three RDs out of ten because our search to fill the previous vacancy had failed. I decided to take on the responsibilities of another building, because like I said, I was still doing okay with work stuff. It was a good experience, but a very stressful one. My original staff also began to have a lot of issues around this time, and I felt guilty because I could not be there for them or have them sit down and fix it due to my schedule. There was a lot of drama that happened between them, which was interesting and also disappointing to see, because they’re all great people and leaders.
Meanwhile, therapy was going okay. It was certainly helping. I was discovering more and more things about myself by the day. But I still felt very lonely and very unhappy. I felt like I was no one’s first priority, and that all of my other friends had people who were more important than I was in their life. And instead of reaching out, I shut them out.
Then, my father came forward to discuss with me his struggles with anxiety. My grandmother’s death, the selling of her house, and uncle’s passing weighed on him and essentially triggered his anxiety. I believe he’s always had it to some extent, but these events happening quickly in succession over a few years pushed it to the surface. It was a difficult thing to hear, especially when in the midst of dealing with it he realized some of the issues we had in our relationship.
So now, I’ve had time to reflect on everything that was last year. A lot of things happened. A lot of things changed. But I didn’t really deal with it as well as I could have, and now I realize something that has been holding me back my entire life-fear. I am terrified of being alone for the rest of my life and it affects everything that I do. When I feel someone pulling away, I tend to just shut them out. When I was lonely, I turned to my RAs for companionship and also blocked all of my feelings because I was scared of them. My “self-care” then required me to zone out because I just couldn’t think anymore. I needed to escape my own mind. I have this need to be viewed as “good” or “perfect”, because if I make a mistake or am not the best at something I am not good enough. I’m not worthy. And therefore that’s why I will be alone. I have essentially built this wall between who I am and who I show the world, and I’m afraid to break it down for the fear that it will not be what someone wants. I am afraid to start new relationships or meet new people because I’m terrified no one will like me and I will just be back where I was in the beginning before I met them-by myself.
I now know that I need to work on breaking down this wall. If never take any risks, if I just stay where I am, then yes, I will end up alone. Which I know isn’t even a bad thing, but I just can’t not try because I’m afraid. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want things to change.
So that’s what I’ll be working on this year. I’m stepping outside my comfort zone. And honestly, this post makes me a little nervous to put out there. But that’s why I’m doing it. I’m a student affairs professional who is not perfect and is struggling with real issues. I’d venture to guess that I’m not the only one. As a field we do a really poor job of practicing what we preach in regards to balance and wellness. I think for me, this is the first step in the direction that I need to be in regarding that area (or really finding a counselor was-she is amazing). Recognizing where I need to grow is not a bad thing-it will only help me in the end.
Here’s to a new start and a new, braver me.