Take the Power Back

Yesterday I was sitting in my home office for the billionth day in a row and I hit a f-cking wall.  I’ve seen enough LinkedIn headlines to know that I’m not alone in this but everything was so far past annoying I just couldn’t. 

I do LinkedIn, Instagram, and sometimes Twitter.  Those are my only remaining social media outlets.  But about a month ago I had to stop engaging with all but LinkedIn.  Everything was irritating me.  All of it.  I thought it was safer for my sanity (and that of my family) to stop. Yet even LinkedIn lately – if I have to see one more article about all the wonderful self improvements I can be doing during this time, and then the counter articles telling me to do absolutely nothing, I will lose my mind.

Then, of course, there is the actual news.  Sweet Jesus – after four years you start to think that seriously, nothing more ridiculous/concerning/illegal could happen in these remaining months – right?  RIGHT?!  Ummm…no.

I am not the kind of woman who believes things happen TO her.  I’ve never wondered, except maybe in overly dramatic episodes as a teenager or in my 20s, why bad things happen to me.  It’s not a line of thinking to which I subscribe.  I’m an optimist.  I know everything will be okay, great in fact, and that my future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades.  But I’ve come to realize something important.  When the world is in the midst of a pandemic, when government is a shit show, when systemic racism is alive, well, and thriving, when uncertainty and ambiguity is ongoing, when your business and its continued success are unpredictable, and you’re stuck in your house with your family – you start to feel overwhelmed and a little helpless.  You start to wonder what in the world you can do about any of this f-cking absurd bullsh-t. And from there…things can get ugly.

Each day this week I had a plan to organize myself.  Clean my home office, plot out things that need to be done, get a handle on my next writing project, and get myself to a place where I feel great about moving forward.  But I just couldn’t.  After months of being more active than I’ve ever been in my life, I could barely muster the will to walk the dog.  After months of eating well and staying on-track health-wise, I wanted ice cream and Tostitos.  I binge watched Suspects (British crime drama) – all five seasons.  I scrolled LinkedIn even though it made me want to take a hammer to my computer screen.  Finally yesterday, I woke up with a glimmer of motivation, and I started looking for books to read that might shake me out of my pessimistic slump.   

Enter Elaine Welteroth, the former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue.  Her 2019 book, More Than Enough, was recommended in a couple of my searches and my local B&N had it in stock.  I read half of it last night, reluctantly putting it down at midnight, only because I thought my continued reading was keeping my husband up.  I finished it this morning. The book tells Elaine’s story with life lessons and advice along the way.  It’s stuff I’ve known and believed for a long time but that, it seems, I easily forget.  Especially right this second.

We all have those magical moments when we get exactly what we need exactly when we need it.  I needed Elaine Welteroth this week.

I woke up this morning with a shift in my mindset.  Part of the reason I think so many people feel stuck and overwhelmed right now is because truly – how do we take action and make things happen in this current environment.  HOW?! 

We do it by taking our power back.

Today I got up, started the laundry, made my bed, cleaned the kitchen, wrote my morning pages, and got my Starbucks.  Then I thought about things I was waiting on for work. Waiting on people to respond, especially waiting for people to respond in the way I want them to, is infuriating.  I took some time to reflect on the things I most wanted to see movement on, and I emailed the people responsible.  And instead of using passive girl-language, as I sometimes do when I’m a little scared about what I’m doing, I decided to write the emails like a baller.  There was no “I just wanted to check-in…” – although I admit my first draft included that line.  But I took the time to erase the language that wouldn’t serve me and to write what I wanted in a way that was professional, strong, smart, and direct (because I am all of those things).  I sent the first one and felt a surge of excitement and, more importantly, power.  By the time my second carefully crafted baller email was sent, I felt like a new woman.  Or maybe, I felt like the woman I know myself to be, but haven’t been in the past week (or couple of months…but who’s counting?).

It’s sooooooo easy to get swept up, especially right now.  The amount of distractions, diversions, and ridiculousness playing out on every screen, platform, and outlet is too big for any of us to successfully ignore.  I am really good at taking breaks from social media (note my near religious avoidance of Facebook for literally YEARS) when I can tell it’s taking a toll on my mental health.  But you can’t ignore literally everything.  It’s next to impossible.  If I can’t shut out the reality of what is going on around me (while still being a good human and member of my community), I have to be able to function in a way that serves me, my family, and those with whom I share the world.  The only way to do that is to take my power back.  Even if it’s in small ways, the difference it makes mentally is a game changer.

Maybe I’ve only started by writing a couple baller emails, but the trajectory of my day and the days to come have already changed dramatically.  Because I no longer feel helpless.  Sure, parts of all of this still feel overwhelming, but not to the point at which I feel paralyzed.  And that is huge.


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