One of my colleagues saw me at a party halfway through my year-long dissertation fellowship and said: “It must be nice to only have to write for a year.”
The comment hit me like a kick in the UFC ring. Why did it hurt? I had won the fellowship. It was a prize. All I had to do was stay at home or go into the office and write. All I had to do was write. For a whole year. That’s it. Write.
It sounds like the ultimate reward for writers – the year to write. Only, it wasn’t so great for me. I often felt isolated and stressed.
The thing is, I wasn’t supposed to feel that way. People didn’t easily understand.
Give me a break, the rest of us are teaching several classes. You’re just getting paid to write. I would kill to have that situation. You have it made.
So, because I didn’t feel the way I was supposed to feel, I just didn’t talk about it. Then, I felt even more isolated, stressed, and now I added the feeling of being ashamed of being a privileged whiner with a fellowship.
Finally, I got online and found a group of people with fellowships. They could relate.
- You’re isolated? Me too.
- You’re stressed? Me too.
- You need encouragement? Me too.
In a recent podcast with Lewis Howes, Glennon Doyle talks about how vulnerability is scary, how it is really hard to talk about the things you are ashamed of because you put your heart out to be hurt.
But then, she says, when you share your shame and someone says, “Me too,” all of sudden, it doesn’t hurt so much anymore. It shrinks. You gain perspective. You are not alone. You realize that other people will support you.
Beautiful reader: There are people who want to tell us that what we’re going through isn’t that bad, they’ve had it worse, other people have it worse, we are wrong for feeling sad in what could be a happy situation, we need to get over it, we need to get over it faster, we aren’t having the appropriate emotion.
And then, there are those who sit with you and listen to how you feel and say, “Me too.”
And then, the pain is there between you, and you look at it, and it shrinks.
Yes, me too.