Back when I was a university lecturer, and spiralling down into stress, burnout and illness, I thought I was on track with my life. I know it sounds ridiculous to say this in light of my wellbeing at the time, but I really thought so.
I had spent my life up until then being on the academic conveyor belt. Degree, PhD, PostDoc, Lecturer…with presumably a future full of research, teaching and publications. It really never occurred to me that I was heading in the wrong direction.
Looking back though, I can see something completely different.
I saw myself suppressing things I wanted to say and opinions I wanted to give. I saw myself forcing myself to do things in a different way than came naturally to me. Why? Because I was busy using the rules of interaction defined by my male colleagues. I pretended to be interested in things that, quite frankly, were mind-numbingly tedious to me. I mean, for Heaven’s sake, how can anyone be enthusiastic about a ‘con rod’?
When I did attempt to use my own language, and explain the beauty or elegance of a theory, it feel on deaf ears. That engineering environment was geared up (no pun intended!) for men to interact in a male way, with no leeway, no compromise, and no ability to expand and allow other ways of doing things.
I now also know of course that my path was to be a healer, but even if I had been destined to stay in science, shutting down my way of doing things and being was utterly soul destroying.
Looking back, I can see that this suppressing of my own uniqueness in that environment was a key factor that led to my spiral into anxiety.
It’s so easy to assume that we must conform to the energies of the Status Quo, whatever they may be. When you try to be yourself, you do often get put down, censured or ignored. I know that all too well. But the truth is that doing this, submitting to what is expected, has a greater cost. In my case a cost of 15 years of illness.
So, is it time for you to take another look at your life and ask yourself, what masks are you forcing yourself to wear? What parts of yourself are you keeping hidden for fear of being different?
As we women expand into our true power and brilliance we are definitely going to stand out and threaten the Status Quo. There will be backlash. But the goal and the prize – the freedom to be ourselves and live to our full potential – is worth it.