Yesterday my colleague shared these words with me, as part of a general critique:
You come off as so insecure, and I don’t know why. You just seem so afraid. You have such low self-esteem, and you don’t have to. You’re capable and smart, but you sabotage yourself. I worry about your future if you don’t find a way to get over this, to figure it out. You’ll have to find a way to be assertive and confident.
With that, the tears came. I had been fine during most of the critique (I’m my own worst critic anyway), but this was unexpected.
It hurt because it was true. It hurt because it was so painfully true, so precise. I was amazed at how well she was able to articulate the problem that had been eluding me, at how she recognized it and related it to me so clearly and truthfully. I know this is harsh, I admit it is, she said. But it’s honest. I just need to be honest with you. Instead of being sad, I felt incredibly grateful. I felt I had been given a gift.
It was something I really needed. A harsh, healing truth.
You used to debate? You need to get into that headspace – that place you go when you’re taking someone down with no mercy, when you’re tearing them apart. You need to find a way to become that person. You’ll be you, but you won’t be you.
Last week, as I prepared for this task being critiqued, I made an offering to the gods in general, to whoever would help me. If a god chose to help me, I requested that they give me some sign, so I would know who I should thank.
I’ve been reading The Odyssey. (Well, listening to the audiobook narrated by Ian McKellan, which is awesome.) As I began the book I was struck by how much I related to Telemachus, “heart obsessed with grief,” who tried and failed to be an adult, who moped around about how difficult things were until Athena took him to task and set him on his way. Because right now, he’s me. This is the point I’m at in my life.
I know now both who was speaking to me through my coworker, and who came to help me when I asked for help. I know now why I feel so inspired, so relieved, so ready to take on again some part of my old self – the warrior self that made competitors cry with my well-chosen words, that could turn my demeanor to ice, that could strike at a person’s core without regrets and without hesitation. The strong, crafty person Athena made me, and can make me again.
Yesterday I made some prayer beads for Her, that I can take with me wherever I go. My talent with crafts, after all, is her gift too, so it’s time I started giving back. Last night I prayed long prayers of thanks to her during my nightly devotion, and gave a libation, all in the sincerest utmost thanks for her words, and for taking me on as a student.
I must not cling to my childhood any longer – it’s time I were an adult.
“Take my words to heart,” She said.
I will find a way.