What the silence unraveled

An organisation that I worked for used to have these end of year awards where everyone would nominate people or teams in different categories, at the end of my first year I won “Relentless for Results”, which was ironic given that I learnt that relentless comes with a whole lot of pushback. As human beings relentless isn’t our innate attitude, why suffer on the road less taken when enjoyment awaits on the beaten down path? We delay fixing the coffee machine because we know if we tap it 3 times in that specific spot it will do the job. We choose not to do something new because of fear of looking silly, failing or what the unknown holds. We are creatures of familiar patterns, habits…creatures of comfort and this also means that many of us aren’t challenged in ways that push us to face the things we avoid or help us grow and learn.

The past two and half years have been physically, psychologically and physiologically some of the most strenuous and violent that we have witnessed as a collective probably ever but definitely in our lifetimes. We were forced to slow down, isolate and sit with ourselves while the world around us was ablaze (still is).

Who are we when no one is around, when we can’t distract ourselves, when we don’t perform? This pandemic was probably the first time that many people got familiar with their inner voice, their deepest fears, hopes, dreams. The first time in a long time that they took stock of their heart, mind and soul and that is a lot of complex layers being processed.

Now I’m sure we’re not here yet

but we’re in a place where many 9-5 jobs are out, and quiet quitting is in. Working remotely is in, along with emails instead of meetings and we have realized that there is a reality where work and life can be balanced. We’ve registered passion projects into companies, signed up to happily ever afters and begun new chapters. We shed layers and are somehow more present in our body and intentional about living and being outside. But this has also come with many questions and some confusion.

I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing—these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt—has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.

Brené Brown

My relentlessness was always rooted in building a better future for people that have systemically been underserved, silenced and marginalised. My relentlessness was in the fight for equity and a dignified, healthier and safer future for everyone. It was directed by the external, which it had for most of my life. So much of our direction and validation is external whether it is through the rigid 5-year plans we make, or dreams someone had for us, the city we call home, the ‘supposed to be’…sometimes we are subtly nudged throughout time and sometimes it is in our face obvious. We are more unaligned with the deepest parts of ourselves than we realise. The self-help/self-improvement industry has sky-rocketed in the past 6 years and I wonder how much of that has to do with us going against who we are truly are and what we want because we are not attuned.

For most of us there comes a time of reckoning in our lives, where some part of ourselves clashes with who we have known ourselves to be. We are challenged to let go of the versions we were ‘supposed to be’, and step into who we are. I’m seeing this in myself, in people around me and hearing stories of people all around the world and it fills me with so much joy. What’s the fear of failure when we all stared death in the face? What is discomfort when we experienced everything we have gone through?

We hold so much wisdom and direction within us, and I think the past couple of years have forced us to look within and get to know ourselves. We have existed in a state of cognitive dissonance for so long and masked it in being productive, performing high and chasing ‘success’. Now many of us are at a cross road and we can either double down on the perfectionism, on the labels/personas, on keeping up the image or we can unravel and meet ourselves and each other.

It is uncomfortable, scary and you feel like you’re losing your mind a little in the midst of the unraveling. But if we yearn for more – for richer, more meaningful and fulfilled lives, we can no longer numb what we feel, dismiss our needs or silence the person we truly are. This is where we cultivate courage.

The last two years showed us how much we need each other, how important our joy is, how we get nowhere solo. So my only goal now is to be relentlessly myself, to live intentionally and pour into my community because this life was not made to kill ourselves over work, and we are allowed to want more, want richer and want more meaning.  

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