You’d be surprised who comes to my office.
You’d be surprised who talks to me after class.
You’d be surprised at what people say.
Or, maybe you wouldn’t.
Maybe, unlike me, you learned quite early what it took me four decades to learn: So many people are silently suffering. They have been scaring the hell out of themselves for years with thoughts of self-doubt, self-blame, and otherwise terrible and false stories about who they think they are.
They tell themselves they need to be thinner, better, smarter, older, have more experience, do better on tests, give better presentations, make more money, get a better job.
You should see these beautiful people. Many fit our society’s “perfect” ideals: They have perfect GPAs. They are star athletes. They are smiling, amazing presenters who charm the class. They are so gorgeous they could walk runways. And yet they are…
… because they are human beings doing difficult things. The more I talk about my own fears, anxieties, and frustrations, the more people open up to me about theirs… and I am amazed.
I think: You? Amazing you? You needed help? That spoke to you? I am so glad.
So many people are silently suffering. It’s hard to hear silence.
Do you think that other people have it together and you’re a junkshow? I used to think that. The truth is that no one has it all together. Some people are just adept at hiding pain.
You know what is so hard? Hiding pain.
I was so afraid to write a blog because I thought some people in my life would think it was stupid. I exhausted myself with fears that “people” wouldn’t respect me or hire me or want to work with me if I didn’t act like a serious academic.
Don’t cheapen your degree.
You know who those “people” were? People I didn’t even like. People I never wanted to become. And yet, I wanted to please their crinkly critical faces.
Age and experience taught me a glorious lesson: I don’t have to please anyone. I don’t have to do things I don’t enjoy to prove that I’m smart. As Mary Oliver says, “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
Here is what I consider such a blessing: So many people have helped me, and so many people can help you. There are so many offices we can visit. So many family members and friends. So many organizations and churches and groups. So many classes we can take. So many people waiting to hear our stories and offer us friendship and compassion.
We don’t have to silently suffer.
There are people who are waiting to listen.
There are people who will understand.
There are people who are loving and kind.
There are people who want you to achieve your biggest, most beautiful dreams.
Come and knock on my door. I’m trying my best these days to be one of these people. It turns out that there are so many more of them than I thought.
You’d be so surprised… but, beautiful reader, I really hope you’re not.