living authentically

I pride myself on living authentically… I don’t pretend and I write off anyone who is not authentic. Too much of life is filled with those who are pretending to be something they are not. Social media and the prevalence of our lives being online only increase the rate of which people stop truly being who they are.

I have struggled the last three years (since being hired as the director of behavioral health services for a large school district in Texas). While I freely talk about the impact of mental health, especially the suicide of my mom, I have stopped myself of really being transparent of what it has been like to be in this position during this time… during COVID, during political strife, being part of a police department during the tension of defund the police and blue lives matter.

I have felt like I needed (more like should) keep the struggle of the intersection of all the pulls in the dark. To speak to such things or complain, would be to take away from the work being done… or if I am honest, to talk about the struggle, might involve even more criticism, which I didn’t have the energy to endure.

I was told at a school board meeting I needed to learn to grow a thicker skin and not take things said in public comment personally. I just shook my head, but in my soul I didn’t know how to do that. There were people who never met me, didn’t know my soul saying things about me, about my ethics… and what they were saying was not nice, more like horrible. I wasn’t allowed to respond. I had to just take the higher ground.

I have been attacked so many times now I can’t even count. Each time not responding, but taking the higher ground… but yet, each time, parts of my soul were cracking a little. They hurt. As much as I wanted to say they didn’t know me… words hurt, especially when they were counter to what I had given my life to doing. I once was emailed to say I don’t care about suicide in kids because I was not upfront with certain statistics… I was protecting families, but that didn’t matter… in the eyes of others I was a heartless person who could care less about suicide… I wasn’t allowed to say I have walked hundreds of miles for those who have died by suicide or that I had raised thousands of dollars for research. I have given my life to the cause. I couldn’t say it. I just had to take the attacks.

We live in a world where attacks are plentiful and the truth of the situation is never sought, or most of the times even voiced. I must admit there have been so many times I wanted to crawl into a hole… and I don’t because each day I hear of a story of how our team is helping a student live an authentic life, how the team is allowing students to be heard and validated… and so I keep moving forward.

I don’t know when our world started to be so cruel and assume the worst in others, instead of the best. I am reluctant to blame it on the rise of social media, but it seems like it has to be part of the equation.

I am in no way perfect. I mess up each day. I have hurt others and myself. Yet I truly try to be authentic and to live a life that tries to make this world a little better. I am trying to learn the balance of being attacked and standing up for myself (I am still learning and have no clue where the balance is).

I am an introvert. I keep to myself. I don’t brag and try not to draw attention to myself. I want to do my work and help in any way I can. I am often times, misidentified as a teflon person. I am not. I crumble and hurt just like others…I am hesitant to voice the hurt because I don’t want to draw attention… I hurt. The last three years have brought more professional pain than I could have imagined. It seems like nothing is enough. I have wanted to run away, but I have stayed (thanks to a few amazing friends and a husband that speaks to my soul). I have stayed because the students deserve to be heard.

I do know our world would be a little better if we hurt each other a little less, showed kindness, and loved a little louder. I don’t know if it will change anything, but I know it can’t hurt to try. I do know attacking others and not taking the time to get to know them, to understand them hurts.

While I talk about living authentically, I realize I can’t if I am not honest with the pain I endure… I can’t if I don’t acknowledge I crumble like others. It is when we are authentic we draw others in, not push them away. When we acknowledge we hurt, we help others give voice to their struggles.

3 responses to “living authentically”

  1. My precious Amy, I feel absolutely helpless, but I hear you and I recognize your pain. It doesn’t help for me to say you are right to ignore the comments, you are wise to avoid conflict, and you have one of the bravest hearts EVER. The hardest road is constantly having “to go high.” (My goal as a leader was to never let them see me sweat, but, as you say, that isn’t authentic either.)

    As your sister, dad, and husband are already saying, take it as long as you can, but not a second longer. The critics don’t deserve your broken heart and burning gut. No job is worth that.

    My best suggestion is to have your sister sit beside you in the next meeting, and both of you look at those meanies with your sweet, brimming eyes. 🥹🥹 Your mom and both of you broke my heart with those teary eyes when you struggled. It will serve the bastards right.

    I love you.

  2. Amy…Amy!

    I know your passion and that passion helped me when I didn’t even know that I needed help!

    Teflon…definitely NOT accurate.

    This world has gotten so cruel but people like you are needed to help us see the humanity!

    Find the value in those that you help because to them (me) you are worth your weight in gold!

  3. Having lived this myself, I can relate. For me, I ran to the arms of my God. But it still took a heavy toll on my life. You can’t be human and endure all that and it not change you.

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