The necessity to pause . . .

The necessity to pause . . . I had a really rough morning. Thankfully, I work at a place where I can bring my whole self to work. Fortunately, I work at a company where self-care, family, and mental health are a priority. If I had to, I could pick up the phone and call my supervisor and say “family crisis” and, with no questions asked, I’d be relieved of the added pressure of balancing work with crisis. I realize how fortunate I am, and I truly wish that everyone had a place they felt safe to disclose their pain and humanness.

For too long our workplaces have been compartmentalized spaces where we bring part of self. Too often, by necessity, we leave our humanity and vulnerability at the side of our bed and move into the world halved and divided, made to fit into a container and abide by unspoken rules of “normalcy.”

Here’s what’s wrong with this habitual scenario.

At last count, most of my friends and colleagues are facing some type of challenge–be it family, health, physical pain, financial, addiction, depression, or likewise. At last count, [before the global pandemic] close to 30% of individuals in the workplace reported a disability. The way I view it, every single person is a hero in their own right, in their own life. Just showing up during these trying times is a testimony to resilience and fortitude.

In my interactions with folks around the world, I’ve witnessed countless pains and struggles. And there is only one way I get through it; I remind myself of the one constant. The constant of love. How, through it all, the heartache, the loss, the confusion, and exhaustion, there is love. There is you and me. There is hope.

For us to go on about “our business” in our workplaces without acknowledging that many people are suffering and some are at the end of their ropes is a form of collective denial. People are reaching out. They are suffering. Your boss. Your team member. Your client. People are sharing vulnerable stories and disclosing their true and whole selves. I encourage us to support this shift and acknowledge their testimonies. I encourage myself to be vulnerable and whole in my personhood. I applaud and support our courage.

As I glance over at Mr. Roger’s timeless wisdom, I am reminded that every day is an opportunity to love, to move a bit outside myself and my own suffering, and reach out to accept someone right where they are. To witness their struggles. To remember we are in this together and to hold a space for another’s dignity. To accept the person exactly the way they are.

I’m pausing today with my own deeply carved emotional pain to remember I’m not alone and to remind anyone else reading these words, you aren’t alone either. Let’s work to make this world less lonely, together.

[Out of respect to my friends who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, one slight change I’d make to the quote: “the way they are.”]

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