Every quarter, I send out an email to my closest friends and network, asking them for their opinions on various things. I wrote this one back in January, but I find it more relevant now than ever. I also redacted a lot of private information, but the essence is the same.
At middle school graduation, our English teacher read us Oh the Places You’ll Go! She made us sit in a circle on the floor while she read to us, telling us that it will be our last storytime for a long time. We rolled our eyes but were secretly happy to oblige.
At the time, I didn’t understand 90% of the book. I couldn’t relate to it. They were just words on pages. Since then, I’ve read the book a dozen more times, each time being able to connect more to it.
I read it yesterday again, as I start a year of change and completely new journey. It was an epiphany. I understand so much more. I am so thankful to Dr. Seuss and his genius relating to work and life.
The past few years had been mostly of highs. “[I didn’t] lag behind, because [I had] the speed.” Sure, there were blimps and hang-ups along the way, but the lurch and mazes through which I came out were short and easy. I was only lost for a while. And along the way, I learned so much about my own weaknesses and strengths, working preferences, goals, ambitions, etc. The mazes became, instead, short blurts of learning experiences and productivity. I got through the mazes and the waiting room and what possibly can happen next? Well, I thought, if this is how life functions, it ain’t too bad. I thought I had life all figured out.
And then the past 5 months happened. I experienced violence, death, and fears at an unprecedented level. My suppressed memories lost their anchors and hid at the most unexpected corners. Professionally, we went through another dip and as much as I was not alone emotionally and support-wise, I felt completely lost. I also had a sudden urge to express my emotions, something I never really did or felt before. In a masochist and egoistic way, I had even prided myself in having private and closed off. I just did not feel like myself though I am more comfortable with who I am than I had been my entire life. Most significantly, I realized that I could no longer compartmentalize all my emotions as well and would have to deal with them head on.
Dr. Seuss reminds us that we have to “hike far and face up to [our] problems whatever [we] are… [B]e sure when [we] step, step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.” My time to do so has come. So, for this year, I’m committed to learn the following:
1. Prioritize my emotional health: I neglected it in the past in fear that people would think that I am weak and not the “career woman” that I have always wanted to be. I made myself numb and function on autopilot by doing more work to distract myself. I need to learn that it is OK to take care of my emotional health AND develop my career at the same time. I’m not saying that it’s realistic to have it all, but I can be a lot more balanced.
2. It’s OK to take a break: Professional or personally, it’s OK to give myself a few days off and replenish my energy and mood. I might feel like I’m falling behind, but the world is more than just a rat race. We can increase the size of the pie.
3. Reaching out to others: I want to contribute more to my friends and family, in any way possible. I want to be better at communicating with them long-distance and being there for them emotionally when they need me.
This year could be the year of HUGE change, professionally and personally. And I am stoked for the journey/ roller coaster ride. I might not be announcing a new initiative or milestone every quarter, but I’ll be a happier person, and that will be even better.