In spring 2011, I lost myself.
Maybe more accurately, I realized I had no idea who I was in the first place.
I had lived in Puerto Rico for six months. I felt isolated – far from my family and friends who knew me best. I was trying to fit in with a different culture, but didn’t feel at home anywhere. My job at a new nonprofit had little work/life boundaries. There was always more to do, so I kept pushing my limits. I didn’t dare slow down for fear of what people would think of me.
The truth was, I couldn’t keep up. I was exhausted. I daily fell short of how I thought I should perform. I made mistakes, and the guilt completely crippled me. I was angry at myself. This is the job I dreamed of, I thought, why can’t I get it together? Am I not good enough? Slowly, the questions racing through my brain turned into an endless cycle of criticism. By the time I moved back to Austin nine months later, I no longer wondered if I was good enough – it was clear to me I wasn’t. I didn’t ask if I was a failure – I honestly believed I was one.
Looking back on that season, it’s clear I was not in a healthy place. What’s also clear is I didn’t know myself well enough to recognize how harmful I was toward my own heart, soul and mind. It never occurred to me that maybe there was a different way of thinking toward myself, that maybe I could offer myself grace and love in the same way I tried to offer it to others.