I feel like I’ve been sprinting for years. I wonder why I have anxiety… why I live via obligation and not from my heart center. Then I look at my life. I’ve been sprinting for years. Since early formative memories… for two decades, my body has been performing in a way it’s not supposed to.
And only now am I realizing that “sprinting” is not a state of being for humans. Or it shouldn’t be. The body’s not designed for it. Only now am I even beginning to recognize that I was sprinting. Or that there’s another pace. There’s running, jogging… there’s walking. For goodness sake, there’s the option of not moving. The shattering of my paradigm is audible, tangible, visceral. I’m thankful for it, saddened by it, reflecting on it:
Things you “MUST” do:
- Get into IB (13 years old)
- Graduate with an >4.0 GPA or you won’t get into “the best” schools (14-18 yo)
- Pass all of your IB exams or what’s been the point? (I still have nightmares that I’m failing/going to fail my IB History exam. It’s been 15 years since I took that test. Fifteen.) (17 -18 yo)
- Apply to college – at least half a dozen (18 yo)
• Choose a major – it better be a lucrative one (18-19 yo)
- Complete this semester with excellent grades (x9) (18-22 yo)
- Find an internship, at least 1, you’ll probably need 2-3 to find a decent job (20 & 21 yo)
- Perform well at the internship – what if you don’t have letters of recommendation or references? (20 & 21 yo)
- Find the oh-so-elusive “first job” – even though you’ve been working since you were 16. It’s the “first real job” that matters (22 yo)
- Be bold and brave; move across the country for an elite opportunity; leave all that you know and love for the chance at success (23 yo)
- Perform well in the first job, even if you hate parts of it or you can’t afford it (23-24 yo)
- Get a second job at the same time as your “first job” but don’t tell anyone because it’s embarrassing that this ‘great opportunity' pays so low that you can’t afford it (23-24 yo)
- … probably need to get a third job because this “first job” is not making a debt on your student loans and the second job helps make rent and food easier… but you have other bills too & there aren’t quite enough hours at your second job (23-24 yo)
- Okay, it’s been two years, time to a second real job – showcase all of your accomplishments from your “first real job” – don’t mention that you had two side jobs because you don’t want anyone to think less of you (24 yo)
- Queue job-hunting stress. Move across the country again for another opportunity. Ask your bf to join you with nothing but the hope that it’s going to be everything you’re seeking. (24 yo)
- You’d better perform well in the “second job” – how else will you get raises and promotions? How will you have a lifestyle or salary that’s substantive or will allow you the life you want if you can’t perform (24 – 28 yo)
- You advocate – using data – for a second person to help you do your job. Your boss literally tells you he’d rather have “one person at 125%, ready to break, than 2 people at 75%” – you are young, naive, and blindly hopeful. You take this at face value and it inspires you to literally sweat, bleed and cry everything into this job. No one (but your lonely partner) seems to notice. Or care. You don’t realize how toxic this is for at least 3 years. (25 yo)
- Buy a house! It’s the only way to indicate financial security & show your worth as an adult… plus it’s cheaper to buy a house than to rent one, if you can afford the downpayment. But you better do it married. If you don’t, you’re breaking the rules (26 yo)
- Get married – balance following everyone’s expectations & your own (28 yo)
- Chase professional credentialing so you can “be of value” and “demonstrate your worth” – no one takes a young, brown woman seriously anyways. (27 yo)
- Once you get that credential, request a raise. Be serious. Be ready to leave. (27 yo)
- 4 years & no promotion? You clearly aren’t of value, aren’t working hard enough, or your potential is not seen. Time to keep moving. Find a new job. (28 yo)
- Bring new job offer to current company. When you show your boss the offer and say, “I am not asking for this much, I’m asking for something. I want to stay here,” he stands up, gives you a hug, and says congratulations. You realize that you just quit, however inadvertently. (28 yo)
- Drag your partner across the country for a new job… again. Recognize that he is continuing to pause his career for yours. Feel gratitude and guilt. Hope the next one “is it”. (28 yo)
- If you hate your new job & you know 3 weeks in that it’s not right, stick with it. Give it 6 months. You might warm up to it. Feel shame, guilt, wish you’d not been so blind. (29 yo)
• Oh the new job has given you crippling depression? Probably okay to find a new one (29 yo)
- Find a new job. It’s for a company that (you think) people will think that you’ve given up on your value system. Fall in love with it. Learn many many things. Face the standard sexism, hierarchical toxicity, etc… and know that it’s still better than what you’ve faced in the past. Oh, by the way, your first 3 months on the job are the busiest time of year … it means you live at the building. But don’t worry, it ends in January. (29 yo)
- Global pandemic hits in March. You work in safety. So much for the “busiest time of year” being isolated to 6 weeks. You proceed to live at the building for the better part of an entire year. (30 yo)
- You’re told that your work deserves a promotion and that it’ll come in Q3. You don’t let up on the gas. Q3 comes and goes, don’t worry for sure in Q4. 5th manager (in the last 1.5 yrs) says it’s not coming in Q4 or Q1. Heartbroken and exhausted, time to find a new role (30 yo)
- Buy another home. Because it’s still cheaper to buy a home than to rent. Even in one of the most competitive housing markets in the country. Be thankful you can do this. (30 yo)
- You find a new role within the same company. You work with someone you admire on a team you admire. But then a previous “leader” (#6 of 6, who managed you for stunning 2 weeks before you transitioned) comes after your promotion and attempts to stop it. Your new boss sees the pettiness and ignores it. But your self-worth is shaken, your demons are dancing and screaming, and you proceed to act like a lunatic for the first three months in your new job… maintaining the pace of “Pandemic Peak 2020” – a year of sprinting. (30 yo)
- Sometime in the early part of the year, you take a breath for the first time in 2 years, since your last move. Oh, we can move slower and immediate hell will not ensue? (31 yo)
- Just kidding, your new “peak” is upon you and you travel now. You go weeks in a row with back-to-back travel, supporting as many as 17 buildings when you should have only supported 11… you didn’t complain or say anything because that’s what you’ve been conditioned to do. Grin, bear it, get through it – or else “something” might happen. (Remember, your old boss wanted 125% from you without complaint. That’s what “good” looks like.) (31 yo)
- After repeated requests from your husband, you get the courage to bring your workload up to your boss. She suggests you ask the team to redistribute. They do without question. What world are you living in? (31 yo)
- At the end of 3 weeks of back-to-back travel, in the middle of a Mon-Fri trip hitting two sites. You get a phone call. Mom’s gone. The next 8 hours were the worst of your life. And how the fuck do you get from Baton Rouge to Denver immediately? You lean on friends to get logistics covered while you frantically drive the only road from BR to New Orleans – the longest drive that ever was… the longest flights that ever were. The worst thing that ever was. (31 yo)
It was then that my hamster wheel exploded. I’d stepped off it for a 2 month period and felt the same way you feel when you get off a treadmill after being on it for a while. Vertigo, like moving is not quite what you’ve come to expect. When Launch Season began, I happily jumped back on, sprinting because that’s all I’d ever known.
Then I got that phone call, everything stopped. Time, the wheel, the treadmill. Everything stopped. I stopped.
I fell into pieces on the floor and apathetically, and then offendedly noticed the world continue around me.
It’s taken 3 months to realize I don’t have to sprint again. I’m pretty privileged to be able to say that, to make that conscious choice. To keep my quality of life and also calm it down, slow it down, be here instead of wishing I was there.
But I miss you, Momma. To be crystal clear, I’d sprint every day to have you back.