I attended graduate school immediately after receiving my undergraduate degree. I was thrilled to be on my way to becoming a therapist. I was by far the youngest person in my program and was already dealing with a slew of insecurities about myself, particularly around what other people thought of me.
During my first year I had a professor that came down really hard on me. We seemed to have different perceptions of how I was showing up and to complicate the matter, she had given me an A in her class, which was quite perplexing.
That summer I received a letter in the mail from the university. It was a single piece of paper on official letterhead from the counseling department. My heart began to race. It stated that at times I seemed motivated and engaged and other times I did not. There were concerns from the academic team about me and I was told they needed to see an improvement in my performance.
This rocked my fragile world.
I was completely distraught by the thought of not being good enough to pursue my dreams. I was also completely baffled as to what I was doing to give the impression they were seeing. I had A’s in all of my courses – it just didn’t make sense. I frantically turned to my peers hoping for some sort of feedback I could cling onto. They said they had no idea what the letter was referring to. I then decided to make an appointment with my academic advisor, who just happened to be the professor I was struggling with.
The meeting went terribly. She stated that I was too emotionally unavailable yet couldn’t give me tangible things I was doing to convey that. After about 30 minutes of feeling attacked and even more confused I finally lost it. Sobs escaped my lips and tears ran down my face in steady streams. I hated crying in front of people but I couldn’t help it. This is when she told me I was “too reactive.”
I contemplated quitting the program but decided my dreams were worth fighting for. I met with the program director with the one page letter clutched tightly in my hand. I shared my confusion with him and lack of clarity on how to proceed. I’ll never forget the jolly, almost Santa-like belly laugh he gave. He gently told me not to worry about it and that he believed I would be okay in continuing. His affirmation that the feedback was confusing, non-specific and therefore not helpful was the boost I needed to realize I would never please that professor.
I finished up my final year of graduate school with flying colors. After my graduation ceremony that very same professor approached me to say “I am really proud of how much you’ve changed.” I had to laugh under my breath because the only thing that had really changed is me not caring about her feedback.
Confidence is not a linear process and it can be quite painful at times. It is an ongoing practice of becoming more okay with who we are and what we are capable of. It’s diving into our authenticity even when it scares the shit out of us.
Authenticity defined by Brené Brown is “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” It is letting go of the shoulds and coming to terms with what is.
To me, authenticity is the ultimate practice in self-love. It’s embracing all your parts, both beautiful and dysfunctional. It is no longer pretending to be someone we are not, no longer changing ourselves in order to “fit in” or make others more comfortable. We need to continuously pay attention to our actions, our values, our integrity and making changes when we screw up – which we ultimately will. It’s working toward the best version of ourselves, not the “perfect” version of ourselves.
Come join us this month to connect more to your authenticity and innate confidence. Coach, adventurer and all around badass Lindsay Gurley will be guiding us on a moonlight hike and taking some time to help us discover ways to more deeply connect to our power.
This event is FREE but you need to RSVP. Click here to reserve your spot.