The Courage Within

Courage does not mean that you possess the strength to carry on. Courage means that you will carry on when you feel that you no longer have the strength.

Photo Credit: Terri Spaulding

I saw this status when I opened up facebook this morning. Maybe it was an answer to last night's prayers asking for the strength to get through the funk I am in. Maybe it was just what I needed to hear to find the courage to plow through my current problems and face my fears. After struggling through another sleepless night, and waking up to the same sad, scared, tears-really-close-to-the-surface-feeling I have experienced for the last couple of weeks, I am ready for a change. I do not want to feel like this anymore. It sucks.

I believe in being honest. So I will tell you that my blog has been quiet because I haven't been myself. I don't know what people who suffer from depression feel like, so I won't say that is how I have been feeling, but I think it might be close. I will say I am stressed, beyond any kind of stress I have ever felt before. Emotional is not a strong enough word.

It stems from me feeling like a failure. At work. I was hoping by now that I would feel differently, I've certainly tried hard enough. But a year after I began my quest to find my place within a changing industry and a stagnant company, nothing has changed. Honestly it has gotten even worse, for me. Because now that I have tried so hard, and beat myself up every step of the way trying to make sure I was doing the right things, and recognizing it hasn't worked, I now I feel that I have indeed failed. Not a feeling I am used to.

This feeling of failure is the last thing I think about before I go to sleep, what I think about during the night when I cannot sleep, and what awaits me when I wake up in the morning. It permeates everything I do. It is wrecking one of my favorite times of year. It is wrecking the joy I feel being around my own family. I have to make it stop.

I hate feeling uncertain, unappreciated, unsure, heck, unwanted. I hate that there is a now a knot in my gut all day long. I was foolish enough to think that people at work would see how hard I was trying. That by me finding the courage to take some chances and think outside the box, it would count for something. That someone in management would appreciate and recognize the lengths I was willing to go to find a solution.

Instead my value to the company is even more in question. So much so, I felt like I was summoned to a meeting to get my walking papers last week. I didn't, at least not yet. That is never a nice feeling to experience, but it is especially hard for me because our family size has recently increased by two. At this moment in my life, my continued contribution to the family income, is crucial.

Why is it that after doing a job for almost 24 years, my opinion does not matter to those in charge? Why is it that after continually attempting to share ideas, and implement them, I am questioned about what I actually do, what my role is? Whose fault is it that I am in a "grey area"? Why am I asked after 12 years with this company to write my own job description and responsibilities to clear up the confusion about what I do? That is in my opinion, just backwards and at the very least determining my job responsibilities should be a joint effort, a shared conversation.

If no one can see any value to what I bring to the table, then somewhere I have made a crucial error. Or, I am indeed, just a failure. Did I fail to advocate for myself? Yes, I thought actions spoke louder than words. Did I fail to make sure I achieved proper recognition? Yes, because I thought it was wasting the company’s time and something I did not need for myself. Am I motivated differently than my management? Yes, I have never been motivated by money, in a sense that I would abandon what I thought was important for the overall effort and team, just to make more money myself. Do I set high standards for myself? Yes, higher than you can imagine, higher than anyone else ever could.

Job satisfaction, passion for what I do, and joy for me, come from feeling that I make a difference. That is what motivates and inspires me. I always want to do better. Clearly I have failed to make the difference in my workplace that I so hoped I could. Shame on me, for allowing myself to fail to matter. Shame on the company for not caring enough to help me be successful.

I have failed. But I am not a failure.

And now that I've just faced one of my biggest fears, and the world did not end, I will gather up the courage to carry on. This blog will no longer remain quiet. I promise to once again begin to succeed at something, and from that step, I will achieve success again. I will matter.

When one door closes, another opens.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to mine, maybe these quotes will comfort you.

He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he who loses his courage loses all.
- Miguel de Cervantes

Have the courage to face a difficulty lest it kick you harder than you bargain for.
- Stanislaus