Walking on a tight-rope, over a 1000 foot drop on to sharp rocks below, during a hurricane. Ever felt like that? I used to. There were deadlines in every corner of my life. Sharp, unending demands from people that had varying degrees of connectivity to me. And then the self pressure I pushed on to myself. If I couldn’t complete a task within a self-specified period of time, I belittle myself as being “not good enough” and slapped that label on every surface in my mind. I wound up feeling like I was two inches tall, and about to be squashed by anyone – simply because I existed. Yeah, that was definitely me.
And all that showed. One particular relationship was a shining example of it all. I was berated by the individual I was with simply because I had been talking with one of my friends about what I was planning to do with my career at the time. I still recall my reaction to all of that. I didn’t shout. I didn’t fight back. I didn’t say a single word. I waited until the tirade was over, got up off the porch, and walked away. Thankfully, my friends came around and picked me up to go off and eat lunch away from the person I had decided to become entangled with. And they spent time talking with me about how they thought things should go from that point. Of those five, two are still good friends in my life today. I have been lucky in that regard.
But I do remember how life seemed like such a terrible thing. I was stuck in a dead-end job that barely covered the bills for a cheap apartment. I didn’t have an education to speak of, aside from the training the United States Air Force had provided for me. It was a rather contentious and difficult time for me. And this one incident forced me to look through what I had in life at that moment, and define a better way for myself.
I knew I needed a degree, so I looked into colleges that I could work with, and decided on one. I started into classes, studying my material in-depth and eventually earning my Bachelor’s degree – nearly twenty years to the month that I graduated high school with extremely poor grades. I proved to myself that I could do what I was wanting to do. Since then, I have continued to prove to myself that I can do what I need to. Sometimes, the road is a little longer than I anticipated, but whatever I want to achieve, I can definitely do.
Many times, both as a teacher in the classroom and as a member of the administration of the college I work for, I get approached by students wanting to know “how it can be done”. I relay my history of college to them, how I had to overcome my own self-defeatist attitude to achieve a degree. Some of the students I reach and they change their attitudes and adjust the way they approach college. Some of them, I don’t. That’s ok though. I got the chance to talk with them now. They might not heed my advice until much later, but at least they heard it.
Right now, it seems like our world is taking a turn to the darkness – particularly with Donnie’s special day of raising his tiny hand up and swearing his allegiance to the adherence of Constitutional statutes and provisions. And in a way, it is. The hopeful nature that the previous eight years has always had attached to it, is over. Now, those of us that stand our posts and watch over the Constitution will need to be more vigilant than ever. Others feel the crush of stifling legal changes that will remove statuses and protections that were hard fought in the past of Civil Liberty disputes in this country. Certainly, the winds of the Storm have arrived. We will all work to survive this tidal change together.
But there will be the inkling of a thought. “I can’t do it.” “I don’t know how.” “Its hopeless.” And I not only get that, I understand it. I have been there in my life. I not only understand, I can physically feel that pain. I have felt it before. I know what it feels like to stand up to a similar Black Dog. If you need compassion to come to terms with your feelings….you have it. If you need someone to stand at your back and protect you from the hurled insults from personal demons….you have it. If you need someone to talk with, or someone that will help out…you have it. And its not just me. Many others have been there too. They are holding out their hands to help too. This particular stretch of sea…you are not travelling alone. We will make it through together.