A Personal Growth Post (i.e. a semi-coherent brain dump)

Two things are going on in this post. One is that I signed up for the #30day10k writing challenge though the Writing at the Red House group, and as such, am committed to a whole lot of writing this month; but I’m not really feeling my manuscript today, so a blog post it is. The other is that since my bi-weekly appointment with my counselor Wednesday evening, I have been processing a lot of thoughts, and since part of the tagline on the logo that my dear friend Anna created for me says “personal growth,” I thought it appropriate to ruminate here and use the words toward my word count goal for the day (which is 500, so buckle up because we’re only 124 words in).

It’s no secret that in recent months I’ve been on a journey of self discovery. I’ve felt an enormous, unrelenting tug on my heart to serve in some way that makes a positive impact on members of marginalized and oppressed groups. The main challenge is that I’m not sure in what capacity I am meant to serve, what my gifts are, or where my focus lies, and so my counselor has shifted the focus of our sessions together in a more career coaching sort of direction, which has given me a different perspective of myself and my goals. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel any closer to clarity than I did four months ago when we made this shift, but I’m finding the process to be incredibly enlightening. One of the first “assignments” she gave me was to write a mission statement. She gave me no hard deadline, which was a rookie mistake, because I’m not sure if anyone of the three of you that read my blog posts have ever written a mission statement, but it is flipping hard. At least it is for me. I have wrestled with this thing, written, rewritten, thrown away, walked away from, and written again for the better part of nearly three months now and it’s still in draft form (though it’s way closer than it was even last week). On Monday, I finally texted the latest version to her and told her to “chew on it and give me feedback at our appointment Wednesday”. Of course, when Wednesday rolls around, instead of telling me how she felt about my statement, she goes the counselor route and says “how do YOU feel about it?” Ugh. After a whole lot of stumbling around for words I thought maybe she’d like to hear me say (please tell me I’m not the only one that does this), I finally said “Well, it’s still pretty vague, but if it was a mission statement for an organization I was considering serving, I’d work for them.” To which she said, “So are you proud of it?”

Am I proud of it? We had roughly 15 minutes left in our session and with one word – proud – she secured me as a counseling client for at least another three months. Am I proud of the statement I wrote? I can’t say that I am. Which is stupid, because I worked hard to come up with it, and on a rational level, I know that even if I’m not yet completely satisfied with the outcome, it’s ok to recognize the effort I put in to it, but proud? Can I have a different word, please? She said I can’t. Proud. After a lot of uncomfortable squirming and mentally hoping the internet would fail and cut our connection and damn – we’ll have to pick up again in two weeks (and maybe she’ll forget what we were talking about by then), she asked what my problem was with the concept of pride. Nothing. No problem at all… for other people. You finished that marathon? Way to go, sis! You defended your dissertation? That’s astounding – you must be on top of the world! You dragged yourself out of bed and made it through the day? You’re amazing, and should celebrate with a nap! I am completely comfortable with, and excited about, celebrating other people’s successes. Sincerely and wholeheartedly. But can we please just look the other way when it comes to me?

Of course, now I have opened the gate to the never-ending (though admittedly necessary) conversation about core beliefs; how they can be challenged and changed, but first you have to figure out where they come from. So begins the hard work of meditating on the questions: What do I want to believe about pride? What was I taught about pride in childhood? What accomplishments would I like to feel pride in? How can I feel qualified to empower people if I am not empowered enough to acknowledge my own accomplishments?

So far there are no answers, except to the last question which is I can’t, and while I can’t say I’m excited about this step in the process, I recognize the value in the work. I’m committed to discovering my calling and I acknowledge that challenging my core beliefs is key to unlocking my potential, and therefore required for any kind of success.

I’ll start here. Today I wrote 872 words, and of that accomplishment, I am proud.

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