Our May 2018 Power Word
In third grade, I was talking about college applications. Yeah, at eight years old. Because that makes sense, right?
To say I had tunnel vision about college admissions would be an understatement. For as long as I can remember, I was obsessed with the admissions process and doing everything I could to be the perfect applicant. It wasn't healthy, but it's not like I was alone either. Being heavily focused on college is the story of many ambitious high school students. And let me tell you, I did everything I possibly could to have my perfect application. In the end, I got accepted into some pretty impressive schools.
But then I got rejected by my dream school.
I know, in hindsight, it's not the end of the world. If that's my biggest problem, I'm insanely privileged. And I'm well aware of that now. But if you were to get into the mind of a 17-year old whose entire life was leading up to a single letter in a mailbox, you'd know what came next. Tears. Large sums of tears. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's the only time I've ever really sworn in front of my mom (sorry, Mom!). And I did so while I was sobbing on our kitchen floor. As you can see, I didn't take it too hard. Kidding.
That was easily my fastest, biggest breakdown. It was messy. It was dramatic. And it took a long time to get over.
As college acceptance season finishes today, I was reminded of who I was on May 1, 2012. I was defeated and I thought that feeling would go away after a few weeks or once I started my freshman year of college, but it didn't because I didn't have the reckoning that has to come after the breakdown.
The truth was, I felt worthless. I had tied up my value for years in what I did, not who I was. I knew who I was and I was proud of that, but I didn't think that mattered to the outside world. So I worked myself to the bone, and it didn't stop after that major breakdown. In fact, it worsened because I felt as if I still had to prove my worthiness even more. Because now, there was proof that maybe I actually wasn't enough.
There's that metaphor that life is a series of peaks and valleys. But not every mountaintop or every low point are created equal. I believe that if we don't take the time to absorb our pain and comprehend it when it occurs, we sign ourselves up for a one-way ticket even further downwards. We can mask it in all the ways we try to prove ourselves but you can't fake low elevation. Eventually, you're going to get a flood.
I wish I knew then what I know now: being enough doesn't come from what we do. It comes from who we are and how we embrace that. However, there's no way to know that without experiencing it and all the ugliness that comes before it.
That breakdown was like the party guest who just wouldn't leave. No matter what I did, it just lingered. But I think that's the point of breakdowns: they stick around until they know their work is done. And when they finally leave, you reach the top of that mountain and the breakthrough shines right on you.
Glennon Doyle spoke about this in Love Warrior (which is in our bookstore), where she said,
"Maybe instead of slamming the door on pain, I need to walk through the door wide open and say, 'Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.'"
From my experience, it doesn't give you the option. It just stays and reminds you it's still there at the most inconvenient times.
But I also believe that breakdowns come in all shapes and sizes. Some are much worse than others and we all experience them differently. Maybe you're stuck in a rut. Nothing is really that bad but nothing's that great either. Maybe things are really complicated right now and you're feeling like you're not just in the valley but you're digging a trench even lower. Or maybe things are really great and you're not exactly experiencing pain, but there's an even higher altitude you wish to experience.
With every breakdown, though, a breakthrough is waiting in the wing, ready whenever you are. So how do we get there? (You know where I'm going with this, right?)
Our May Power Word is...
breakthrough: (noun) a sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development
We're all either in the midst of a breakthrough, on the tail end of one, or we're sitting in the valley, hoping it's on its way. This month, we are going to talk about the before and after of a breakthrough and ask the many questions necessary for us to all reach our highest summits (did you know that's what the word "spire" means?).
Like, what constitutes a breakdown? Does something horrible have to happen to you? (If you ask me, no, because I wouldn't say something traumatic happened to me.) Can a breakthrough come out of the blue? What exactly does a breakthrough look and feel like? Is it a progression over time? If things are just in a state of mediocrity, can you still experience a breakthrough?
We're all searching for that pivotal moment that we'll look back and say ~that~ was when it all happened. And whether or not we can control the timeline of that or create that here on Spire, we should know how to recognize when the descent is happening, how to learn what we need to know, and move forward accordingly.
No matter where you are, there's always a higher peak you can climb, one that is closer to the trueness of who you are.
This month we'll talk about the ugly breakdowns, whether it's with friends, a career move that didn't go as planned, or just a ton of uncertainty, and we'll talk about what comes next (spoiler: it's the really good stuff).
If you've been searching for a breakthrough, take comfort in knowing that it's right around the corner. You're on the up and up.
HERE'S A LOOK AT SOME OF THE ARTICLES COMING YOUR WAY THIS MONTH:
- How failure can lead to your biggest career move
- How to start gardening, no matter where you live
- An essay called, "The Slow Climb to the Breakthrough"
- A guide to nutrition that will better serve your wellbeing
- The secret to using a friendship breakdown for a relationship breakthrough
- and so much more!
Plus, we'll start giving you some sneak peeks of our new podcast (!!!).
I can't wait to see where your breakthrough takes you.
Have you ever experienced a breakdown? What did your breakthrough look like? Share with us in the comments!