We had a meeting icebreaker at work today and we had to say what our spirit animal was. I decided to say mine would be a turtle because I’m shy and I love lots of alone time. Yet in the presence of no one, I would have chosen a phoenix – colorful, free, bears weight, takes space and flies. One of my colleagues suggested I choose a creative animal, but I allowed the other voices drown the suggestion so I didn’t have to pursue the conversation.
People at work don’t really know me because I don’t let them in. It’s a vulnerable place to be at for a sensitive person like me. I’m good at what I do and that’s the only thing I really want them to know. Sensitivity can look weak. The only other passion I pursue at work with full conviction would be mentoring whenever I have the chance. I love helping eager people learn and grow, because they remind me of myself.
I’ve been crying a lot lately. To people who don’t understand, it may seem like I do it over the most trivial things. I’ve been feeling a lot – the burden of long to-do lists, the magnitude of my love, the lack of inspiration, the confines of situations, the tightness of the space I perceive myself to be in. I couldn’t even bear to look at my finger when I sliced off a small portion of my nail. I avoided feeling my fear for as long as I could.
For a while now, I wondered where my strength went. I’ve always seen myself as excessively strong, but it seemed like that identity was disintegrating. All that was left was a strong-looking facade that in reality was hollow inside. I could barely support myself, how could I support anyone else? And so I had been feeling like an empty shell. I preserved my energy only for the people who mattered and started withdrawing.
It is inevitable to sacrifice some part of yourself when you’re in a relationship, but how do you prevent it from consuming you? I don’t blame my relationship, but my idea of it. Being in a relationship to me meant being committed, toning down the parts of me that made the other person uncomfortable, compromising in some places, making space for someone else and staying together with that person. It’s far from the idea of a phoenix. While I try to take up more space and time for myself when I remember, I find it truly hard to love and simultaneously let go. Let go of the fear of loss, of uncertainty and of failure. So I hold tight to the one I love, but in the process I forgot about the spirit animal within me.
But like a phoenix, I have the ability to rise from the ashes and start a new leaf at any time. The idea lends me the immortality of chance. I have my friend Mabel to thank for reminding me that learning and growing never ends.