Failure is one of those things that is easy to write about when you have overcome it. Sharing a story of how we persevered through life’s challenges and came out the other side is not only cathartic, it is inspirational. Everyone loves a story of triumph.
But what about when you are in the thick of it? What do you do when you are mid-collapse, or feel like you’re drowning? How or what do you write about then?
As a writer, I have spent much of my career sharing my personal stories. From battles fought and won, to lessons learned and relearned, I have always tried to be honest with my audience. I believe in vulnerability and in authenticity and sharing my life’s challenges and imperfections has been a big part of my writing. But lately I have been struggling. A year that started out with the launch of a book and goals to begin coaching, quickly turned into one of the biggest mental health crises that I have had in years.
Everything became a struggle. My anxiety became unmanageable, my self-care plummeted, my work and relationships suffered, and my interest in anything, even my beloved writing, became non-existent.
But it wasn’t just the lack of interest that held me back from writing (although that was a big part of it), it was the fear around speaking vulnerably, while being at my most vulnerable.
Although I have built my career on honesty, it has always been in more of an ‘after the fact‘, ‘let’s add some humour in and laugh at how hard life can be‘ kind of way. I have always kept it light-hearted, and I have always kept from talking about my battles until I was out of the trenches.
One of the biggest hang-ups that ‘helpers’ face in moments of crisis is asking themselves, ‘How can I help/inspire others when I can’t even help or inspire myself?!‘
But what if the greatest help you can give someone is not to offer ‘after the fact’ advice or light-hearted humour … what if the greatest help you can offer someone is just to let them know that they are not alone? What if the biggest gift you can give someone is the knowledge that there is someone else in the trenches too, fighting alongside them?
This too, shall pass. Of that much, I am sure. And in the meantime, I am going to keep fighting, and I am going to keep sharing my story, whether I have found triumph or not.
If you are in the trenches right now, know that you aren’t alone. And I can promise you this … I am not going to say ‘We’ve got this!“, because even though we likely do ‘got this’, hearing that right now is not helpful.
I’ll just be there, sitting alongside you.