It’s week 6 of my 12 week journey I wrote about in this blog entry back in October. I’m at the half way point and while I didn’t intend on keeping a journal, or sharing regular updates about the development of the journey, I did want to share this development in case it is of use to anyone else.
This journey was prompted by a desire to share honesty, truth and vulnerability. It felt, for me, like a huge gamble to be so open and to publicly share such a personal journey of growth and development – however, being true to yourself, and honouring that, is the ultimate definition of authenticity. And authenticity is something I know so many of us are craving: from the news; from our idols; from social media; from our friends and in this incredibly anxious and challenging set of circumstances we find ourselves in, from our leaders and society, too. Authenticity is ultimately about respect. To encourage these values in others and not display them in myself would be insincere. I have to pause here to thank you, verily, for your incredible feedback on my blog entry and to some of my posts on social media (@ThatJezRose if you’re not there with me). So many of you have been in touch both publicly and privately to tell me that you found comfort, solace, or encouragement, in me sharing with you matters of the heart. There was a danger that it could be “over sharing”, however, frankly, I’ve always enjoyed being the cat among the pigeons and the concept of “over sharing” is subjective. When it comes to how we feel and how that in turn impacts how we think or behave, the notion of suppressing that or shying away from anything but the truth doesn’t sit comfortably with me. Several of you pointed out to me how rare it is to see men openly share their emotions in this way and how important they felt it was. That I found sad. I also found it surprising and asked a few friends if they felt that was the case: do men really not talk or share about how they feel? Turns out that toxic masculinity really does suppress the notion that men are allowed to be human: to be vulnerable and feel. Which strikes me as odd that moisturising and even wearing foundation are now a more widely accepted practice among all men (gay and straight), yet acknowledging what it is to be human: to experience joy, sadness, anxiety, elation, excitement, grief – are apparently things to be ignored. We are a sentient, emotional species: emotions are a key part of how we function and running away from them, not acknowledging them and refusing to honour them is destructive and results in behaviours that are destructive to yourself and to others, too. It’s something I’ve observed so often in leadership particularly, and in the businesses I’ve worked with over the years: to be human is, apparently, a weakness.
It took 6 weeks for me to realise and acknowledge that this journey was one of self care and personal growth for me and me alone. I started out determined to put on weight and become fitter; to heal a broken heart and to fix everything that had gone wrong and resulted in me ending up in a lonely and both emotionally and mentally challenging space. We are a resilient species, however, there’s only so much kicking one can take. Yet when I wasn’t putting on any weight (literally none at all), despite eating regularly and exceeding my recommended calorie intake; when attempts to repair ruptures were ignored and when after 4 weeks I didn’t feel any further forwards, it struck me that I had neglected to factor in the most mighty of our life forces that so heavily impact every aspect our lives and the changes we make: time.
Patience has never been my forte. I’m a fixer and a doer, and my reputation is for getting things done and making progress. When problems manifest in small doses, or with individual challenges or moments of crisis, it is easier to manage setbacks and a lack of progress because there is normally always something else you can change or move forwards while you wait for all of the pieces to align. There’s a constant feeling of achievement or progression, which is course validating: the effort you’re putting in as getting you somewhere, or returning the efforts. But I found myself with a monumental amount of loss, grief and challenge accumulated over the past 12 months, all of which required one particular element in order to progress; the one thing I resented the most and could do nothing about. Time. Often the hardest thing is to do nothing. We so desperately want to do something, yet that something can make things worse. Such is the flaw in being human that we so strongly desire to fix. Lao Tzu wrote that: “nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished”. Week 6 of my journey coincided with a long day in the garden stripping out, weeding and rearranging the jungle area and as I stood back to see the incredible changes I was reminded by nature the difference that just one day can make.
Each of those single days ultimately add up to progress, but seen in isolation can be distracting, debilitating, and demotivating. Change cannot be achieved overnight. Change must honour and respect the past; the emotions, efforts and experiences tied up with what got you to this point. Moving forwards, having a goal, or distance light, is important, but time will always tick one second at a time. No quicker. No slower. I have re-learnt that honouring time is perhaps the most critical part of any journey – the destination or goal doesn’t have to change, but when we arrive at it may well be out of our hands.
So where does that leave us with our journeys if they realistically may take longer than we hoped, or need? Do we give up? Do we feel overwhelmed? Do we wallow in the lack of progress and pain experienced with stasis? That’s an option, of course. It’s a space I think I was stuck in for about 5 weeks, too, but that was as a result of feeling lost and unwell. I’ve chosen, however, to embrace the journey. To enjoy every day as part of that progress: one day at a time, with trust that I will achieve what I set out to achieve, and belief in myself. That only comes from being honest, patient, kind, and authentic to yourself.