microagressions, personal reactions, & winding down.

Little things add up. It can be difficult to notice the pileup in a world where, even post-pandemic, the push is to go and go and go. I also know that I and others have been conditioned to play the Trauma Olympics – those “It could be worse” thoughts that keep us running a rat race.

Today at work, I was reading comms where all of my male coworkers on a certain project were mentioned by name – but not me, who’s been doing the brunt work of this particular project. My name was left out and the work I alone have been doing relegated to “work being done by the team” at large.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in my academic and/or work career:

In work meetings I have been told that what I said was wrong, even though all I had said was what was relayed to me by a different coworker.

I’ve been mansplained more times than I care to count, as well as had things that I’ve made clear I don’t care to learn about taught to me by men who think I must care about what they care about.

I told a teammate that the issue they were seeing in their graph was with the axes being switched, and they told me I was wrong – we lost points on that project because they left the axes, and they were indeed switched.

Now I don’t say all this to get anyone down or even to complain. I say it because these are little things that the folks doing them probably didn’t even mean unkindly, and frankly they were things that in the moment bothered me but didn’t affect me greatly. The issue is that as I go through a period of transition in my life (right now) I hear my inner dialogue often doubting myself. I’m working hard to change this as I realize that microaggressions like these, as well as my childhood experiences and current adulthood as a Former Gifted Child underlie much of my self-doubt.

Practically, I can’t change what other people do. And I will no longer force myself to feel a certain way about what people do. No more “Well it could be worse so I shouldn’t be upset,” or “I’m sure they didn’t mean it that way and I’m just overreacting”. I am trying to kindly and empathically assert myself and protect my energy.

But how to wind down when the world upsets and stresses you? Personally, I

🐦Surround myself with things that calm me or bring me joy, including close friends and loved ones, my cats (when they’re behaving), plants, and quiet

🐦Roll with it. I let myself feel the hurt or the anger or the whatever instead of trying to meditate or breath-work it away.

🐦[but also] Do some breath work, or sit in silence. Sometimes, like I said in the bullet above, I don’t do this and I just stop trying to silence an actively running mind. But sometimes my mind just wants peace and quiet.

🐦I try and remain calmly true to myself. If someone tries to tell me that what I care about is wrong or doesn’t matter, even though that makes me angry I don’t react at them in anger. I may end the conversation – or even the relationship – but I don’t explode.

🐦[and in order to not explode] I spend time with myself, doing what I alone feel like doing. Sometimes “time with myself” is actually going to a loud bar with a couple good friends. Sometimes it’s silence and a book. Sometimes it’s a long walk in the woods. I listen to what my body and mind and soul say they want us to do. And then I feel more in control of my journeys, and less likely to lose my mind/explode.

🐦I try to be in “beginner mind” – humbly accepting that I, and all of us, know nearly nothing.

I find beginner mind hugely helpful in enjoying the day-to-day. When I felt like I always had to prove myself, had to know everything, nothing that I tried “for fun” was ever actually fun because if I wasn’t an expert immediately, I hated it (re: Former Gifted Child). Learning to laugh at doing things poorly has changed my life. I try my best – whatever my best looks like that day – and enjoy the process.

Let’s end this on a note of a process I enjoyed particularly today – planting a few new plants. I had a bit of extra capital this week and decided I could use some new friendly faces around the apartment:

A “white fusion” calathea – the person at the nursery says these take the same care as any calathea but can be a bit more finicky, so we shall see!

Calathea musaica

I also planted a new rocket-ship-looking cactus and placed a new, grassier-looking air plant with my medusae. Not yet pictured!

May you enjoy your processes.

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