Happy New Year, all!
I didn’t really want to do a retrospective because 2016 was sort of an awful year for me (like everyone else). But since I had so many life changes, it’s fitting to reflect on them.
2016 began with my husband and me going on vacation for a week to the Dominican Republic to escape the dastardly cold of a New York January, and our jobs. My spouse loved his job, but it was exhausting. Breathing in the salty air and sleeping by the pool restored his soul. By the time we left, he was energized to leap back on the horse and gallop for a while longer, at least until our next vacation.
I, on the other hand, felt drained the entire wonderful trip. I tried sleeping by the pool like my spouse, but I kept getting nervous that someone would steal my iPad (not likely given that we were at a Westin resort, so everyone else had iPads, too). I tried napping in the sun, but my brain wanted to be engaged instead. I became exhausted. Then I realized the root of the feeling came from thinking about the fact that I had to go back to work in five days (four days…three days…two days…you get the picture). I loved the work that I did as a private equity investor, but as soon as I walked into the door of my firm, an unshakable cloud descended upon me and the knuckles of my sternum locked together. In meetings, the cloud filtered into my mind, fogging my confidence and analytical skills.
When I got back to work, I took some time to think about what I was feeling, thinking that if I could identify it, then maybe I could change it. One thing I noticed was that the partners’ faces lit up with engagement when they spoke to each other, but drew blank when I spoke, regardless of what I’d said, it seemed. I didn’t feel welcome to speak, I didn’t feel comfortable to ask questions, and I felt constricted from applying my talents. Ultimately, I didn’t feel that I belonged in a place where I was told that I did, because I was hired into the company.
This feels familiar, I thought. Why does this feel so familiar?
My brain had a flashback to my father’s funeral, in September 2015. Just the thought that I would maybe encounter my sisters, whom I had not spoken to in years, made my heartrate stayed elevated. When I walked into the church, I saw one of my sisters and gave her a somber smile, thinking that if she responded positively, I would go talk to her, make some amends, and know that we could finally behave like we were family. But her face stayed cold. Maybe she was in shock. Maybe she didn’t recognize me since it’d been so long (at least five years) since she’d seen me. It didn’t matter; the point was that I was not welcome in her life and I never would be.
So that was it.
My bosses were treating me the way my sisters and my father did: creating an environment in which I felt completely uninvited despite the fact that we were one family living in the same house (or, one company into which we’d all been hired).
The first half of 2016 was filled with feelings of inadequacy. I chose to walk away from the source of those feelings – the company I worked for – and start a journey to ensure that I’m never made to feel that way again. That meant telling the story of how all of these feelings began and, just like skin, clearing out what lies beneath that erupts into grossness. Since the second half of 2016, I’m 105,000 words and 286 pages into the grossness and I’ve still got a decade to cover.
2017 will be about re-establishing my confidence in myself and my abilities through writing. Writing is one of the worst ways to accomplish this, in my opinion, because it results in so questioning and shakiness, but I think that’s the point. In 2015, I made it a mission to get physically stronger, and over the past two years of gym-going, I’ve learned that muscles only build up when they’re broken down first, and that requires some shaking.
So, here’s to shaking myself to strength in lucky number ’17.