As I listened to my devotion this morning it asked me what my big lie was. The lie that held me back. The lie that kept me from loving and living fully. The lie that scared me. The lie that scarred my heart.
I, full of fear, wrote a few months ago about the feeling that I am a bad friend. Those feelings did not dissipate over night…or at all. In fact, read something by a former friend that confirmed to me just what a terrible person and friend I have been all along. A small part of my heart whispered what she wrote could not be about me, it could totally be about someone else, but the biggest part of my heart told me even louder that I knew it was about me because who else could be as terrible a friend as I was.
So, as I began this work year, I came in with feelings carried over from last year. As I began this academic graduate school year, I came in with my feelings of inferiority. I brought my bags with me. My bags marked “TERRIBLE FRIEND,” “NEVER ENOUGH,” “BURDEN,” “MY WAY OR ANXIETY,” “CHRONIC ILLNESS,” “NOBODY EVER UNDERSTANDS,” and “MAY FORGIVE BUT DEFINITELY CAN’T FORGET.”
I walked down the quiet hallway towards my classroom on those workdays and played in my mind the hurtful words I caught a coworker speaking about me on more than one occasion. The words that this person said to other coworkers about me not being good at my job, about my failures in this person’s viewpoint, about their dislike for me. I replayed the way I saw another coworker roll their eyes every time I spoke, even though they thought I never saw. I replayed the way everyone else’s good news was celebrated, and I never received a congratulations on my nuptials, that were so long awaited.
I replayed these incidents daily in the first weeks of school. I replay these incidents daily.
I knew there was blame of my own to hold. I knew my own inclinations to withdraw. I know the way I am apt to stay in my room and keep to myself when I don’t feel welcome. I know I have been overwhelmed and had a lot to get done, so I have worked diligently in the hours I am here, instead of socializing. I know my own anxieties over not fitting in. I know that I’m more inclined to speak if spoken to first, and that when I do talk, I do overshare. Yet, I don’t think that any of these are fatal flaws that make me a bad educator, a bad coworker, or a bad person.
I sent a text to my husband today when school ended. I told my best friend in the world that I miss having a work friend. At my first job it took a while. I learned there were people I could not trust. I learned that drama does not end in high school or college. I learned that some of the most hurtful words can come from people that you think you can trust as the people you really see the most often as members of your work team. But, I also made one of my favorite friendships in the world. I made a friendship that I love when my phone rings with this person calling. I made a friendship that this person stood at the altar with me when I married the love of my life. I made a friendship that I could go to their office during my free time and get my work done, but they were also a safe space that we were so comfortable with each other sometimes there was definitely no work getting done because we were venting so that we were able to work for the rest of the day/week. I miss that connection. I don’t have that here. I tried. And yet again, my heart was hurt.
I tried to make a friend. I tried to open up this year. I thought this year could be different. I thought as I adjusted, as I taught a subject I loved, I would hit my stride in year two here and fit in and find friends. But today, words were spoken to me that made me realize in my room, with my work, is where I need to be. My baggage that I hoped would get a little smaller this year, just grew a little more stuffed.
My lie just got a little bit louder. My heart has whispered again to look how lonely we are here at work, but all lies tend to have a smidgen of truth, I think. Otherwise they would have never formed as thoughts to begin with.
I am so sad, and I wish I could put it more eloquently, that adults can act like they are in middle and high school. I am so sad that we don’t have more respect for each other. I am sad that the golden rule did not sink in for us as children. I am sad that we see each other disposable, useless. And I’m sad that if we don’t like each other we can’t just be upfront about it. There’s something to be said about being truthful yet cordial. I don’t believe in fake. Fake is a waste of time. Love who you love, like who you like, be cordial to everyone, because whether you care for someone or not, and whether or not you care to be their friend, every life, every mind, every heart is valuable, and some are far more fragile than others. I would rather not waste my time on someone who is faking being my friend and is talking about me behind my back, and would prefer to spend that time cultivating true relationships including the one with myself that is a lifelong process of growth and love.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.