“I don’t need you to be the perfect student. I need you to tell me what’s actually going on.”
Most of us have had to be perfectly composed and “on” so much that we don’t recognize the opportunities we DO have to let that guard down and be real.
It doesn’t occur to us that we don’t have to have it together all the time. Or that other people might actually want to help.
I was guilty of this for a very long time.
If a well-meaning boss asked what they could do to help me, I immediately disregarded the question because I believed my job was to make *their* life easier, not the other way around.
In therapy sessions, I spent the whole time reassuring my therapist that I was a-ok and cracking jokes to try to give them a break from the emotional weight of their job.
With my coaches, I did all my homework to a T and silently compartmentalized away my challenges because I wanted to look like a good student.
Being the competent, go-to person who had it all figured out was my identity.
It had genuinely never occurred to me that anyone would be interested in hearing my challenges and helping guide me through them – even the ones I paid to, ostensibly, do exactly that.
I associated my needs with being a burden on others, so I never let those come out.
I was just going through the motions of checking all the self care boxes you’re “supposed” to do.
That ended up being expensive, exhausting, and fruitless.
Finally, I got called out: “I don’t need you to be a perfect student. I need you to tell me what’s actually going on. Anything else is a waste of our time.”
I was really lucky to work with a professional who could see through my façade and was bold enough to say it.
That gap between my inner experience and outer façade had been the source of a ton of self-doubt and confusion.
It was a profound relief to finally a) have my real needs be seen and b) have permission to stop doing the exhausting dance of being “on” all the time.
It allowed me, for the first time, to actually bring people behind the façade to support and stretch me where I needed it.
Where have you been hiding behind an image of having it all together?
Where might you actually be able to start inviting people in to support your real needs?