During the weekend, we spent a lot of time wondering what we should pivot to. I sensed that there was a kind of fear from the team — fear of pivoting again, or fear of failing. We couldn’t reach a decision until our meeting on Tuesday night. Leo had put all our ideas on to complete molecules, and we made a decision really quickly. I am really thankful that he did that because we really needed that. At the same time, I felt slightly ashamed and guilty because I feel like that should have been done by me. I wanted the team to work on a project they care about. But by focusing on that, I had let us spiral — instead of helping the team reach a decision.
During team week, I paired up with Jamie for the Listening and Talking activity. I was a listener first, so I got the latter questions. I kind of feel like the second person always wound up with the harder questions. When I was saying some of those things out loud, it was uncomfortable. It felt like I’m airing an open wound — healing and stinging all at the same time. It was like I was reaffirming all these ghosts in my head.
Sometimes I pretend to be strong. Sometimes I pretend I don’t hurt. Sometimes I am afraid of my own expectations of myself. Sometimes I am afraid of other people’s expectations of myself.
There are times when I wish I was home, around people I’ve formed deep bonds with, so I can just be vulnerable and weak and whine; maybe hear hard advice from people who are more experienced and mature than I am. But at that moment, (because 3 minutes of talking about pretence and fear feel really long) deeper things just started to pour out. And I wasn’t sure what it is.
On my empathy maps, some of the things that the team collectively agreed about me were how I don’t ask for help. And how because of this, they didn’t know how to help me. I know that this is a problem for me on a personal level but I never realized how it’ll affect other people. Prior to going back to school, I’ve always been involved in roles where a lot of people demand a lot of things from me, so I was used to delivering everything on my own. It’s not that I didn’t want help — I just didn’t have anyone to turn to for help. I told this to the team and also told them that they should initiate help if they feel that way. I need them too, in order to change. I realize that when I don’t ask for help and don’t let myself be vulnerable with my teammates or my friends, I have also unknowingly created a barrier for people to get to me.
I haven’t been kind to myself. I’m working on it. But I’m slowly recognizing the need for balance — self-awareness vs. self-criticism. I recall leaders that I look up to and worked with over the years and realized that leadership isn’t really being the perfect person who knows everything. And they don’t pretend to. I guess part of being a leader is allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of your teammates and humbling yourself so you know how to serve them better.
And in order for that equation to balance out, you first need to be kind to yourself.