2017/10/13

Rocket Boosters

I've lately been blessed with rocket boosters in the form of wisdom, perspective, and the assurance that "yes, you have a right to be listened to".

Wisdom
I've always been one to hem and haw, fret, doubt, revise, and over-prepare. My tendency to worry got me far in life. Fear and anxiety motivated me to constantly get things done, non-stop, no breaks (even vacations were fast-paced!) because I always needed to get somewhere and get there quick and get there with no hiccups or, at least, anticipate every hiccup. And hey, I like to think I've done ok for myself.

Unfortunately, fear and anxiety are not sustainable. Running on such may gas me up quickly, but I burn out just as fast.

Now, I'm giving myself permission switch to a more energy-efficient, environmentally/health-friendly fuel. I can rest easy; I'm here now. Everything else is bonus.

It's time to ween off of these old, dirty fuels and to move toward something cleaner. My replacement motivator: Let my desire for good for others drive me.

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Perspective
Me: I'm overworked and overstretched doing x,y,z; a,b,c,; oh, and also 1,2,3.
*later*
Them: I just want to appreciate you for doing x because...
Them: You handle a and b with integrity...
Them: You're so good at z...

I had taken on my responsibilities at a time of clear skies, but the looming cloud of to-dos cast a black and violet hue on my day-to-day. My duties had morphed into a curse and a burden. My internal, on-going monologue nagged at me about the hanging threads of unfinished business. "I have to do this, this, this, this, and this. And, oh man, I forgot to do that."

And yet... hearing the exact same thing from external voices in my inner circle-- "Wow, you do this, this, this, and this? Oh, and thank you for doing that!"--is uplifting. As I'd pushed forward, I would take note of my role models and all that they do every day.

My support system breaks through the clouds and offers rays of reminders: I'm doing now what I looked up to someone before, for doing back then.

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Assurance 
...that "yes, you have a right to be listened to"

Humility is not self-deprecation, nor does it need to be self-prescribed inferiority.

Humility is having openness to criticism, willingness to improve, and desire to learn.

Self-deprecation and assumed inferiority is silencing yourself at a table of powerful players, not realizing that you've been invited because you are a powerful player, too. It's unfairly inferring that because you've never seen someone like yourself speak up with something important to say that no one who looks like you ever did or ever will speak up with something important to say. It's labeling "networking" as something White people do to horde privilege and "bayanihian" as something kababayan do to hustle, scrape by, and make do as a means toward having just enough as though the spirit of the two are totally alien to each other and meant to be kept separate.

To be more blatantly specific: sitting at the table of a governing board meetings, contacting old professors, asking a role model to be my mentor, and having the audacity to ask questions and not for permission are foreign skins (lighter skins?)  I've been trying on lately. These costumes feel outsized and superficial.

It's like that time years ago, when Brian and I were only dating, when we found ourselves in a public park in Taiwan with a group of Taiwanese friends. They convinced us to put on bright red, drapey cultural garb and be carted around on a human-powered bamboo wagon (later they informed us that, technically, we had undergone a traditional wedding ceremony and that--technically-- we were now husband and wife).

Sitting in the itchy robe in the dead of that humid summer, smiling while our friends took snapped photos of our unintentional matrimony, I wondered about the appropriateness of my "trying on" another culture. I was a fraud, and everyone knew it; nobody was taking the ancient ritual seriously, nor did I want them to. Brian and I vowed not to share any of these photos partially out of embarrassment for being finagled into such a situation, partly out of superstition and fear of jinxing our own prospects for getting married one day, but also out of shame for betraying our own culture.

Brian and I eventually did marry, on our own terms and fittingly, borrowing from other cultures while building from our own.

Doing "White" things doesn't mean that I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing. It doesn't mean that I don't deserve to do these things. It doesn't mean that I'm inherently not good at doing these things. Networking/stepping up/speaking up/offering critique/taking charge/visioning are not "White things White people do"--they're things I've seen White people do to thrive. They're things I can do, too, to climb and lift while I climb.

= = =

Thanks, as always, for hearing me out.