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  • Natalie

Fifteen Minutes

I got in my car, anxiety slowly growing. I practiced the upcoming conversation over and over again in my mind, ignoring, although quite unsuccessfully, the nagging fears about how I would answer certain questions. But in the back of my mind, I knew the anxiety was not about the job interview, but about much deeper worries. Will I be accepted? Am I enough? What if I fail? Will they even like me? What if I can’t do it?

I was aware of the battle growing in my mind. More than two years passed since my last “normal” job, one that still left lingering memories of shame and panic, feeling like I failed when I realized I could not keep up with the demands. I knew I had grown a lot and was in a much better place emotionally and physically now, but the fear of failure was real. I also knew that if I continued to dwell in my fears, the interview would be disastrous, not externally, but internally. I would go through the interview afraid, timid, avoiding asking questions for fear of being seen as weak, agreeing to more than I ought, and answering how I thought the interviewer would want me to answer, rather than acting with integrity.

The shame and anger that would occur from betraying myself in an interview was simply out of the question.

I had an opportunity to show myself that I had worth despite the opinion of a stranger. It was in this fifteen minute car ride that I needed to address my growing fears of not being good enough so I could hold my head high, no matter the outcome.

I chose in those fifteen minutes to practice a skill that I have been slowly incorporating into my life: giving myself permission. Terrified to break the spoken and unspoken rules as a child (and into adulthood), giving myself permission felt like a complete reversal of my childhood. Instead of punishment, it was as if the adult part of my was kneeling before the child in me, reassuring them that it was okay to feel things, that they would not get in trouble for having questions and opinions, and that it was okay to feel scared.

Those fifteen minutes of verbally giving myself permission to ask questions, to not have a prepared answer, to negotiate my salary if needed, and most of all to show up exactly with all my emotions and personality, gave me more confidence than an hour of affirmations from a friend. No one could convince that I was allowed to take up space unless I chose to agree and act on that belief.

It is an amazing gift to have friends who can affirm us, who can tell us that we are good and worthy of belonging, that we are allowed to take up space and feel our feelings. We need people who can affirm us and show us we are loved but there comes a point where we need to speak those same words to ourself.

Reparenting ourselves speaking words of kindness and acceptance can feel unfair and can make us even angrier at how our parents failed to affirm us. It is okay to be angry and to grieve that loss; it is a real loss. But as we move through the grief and the anger, are we willing to risk seeing ourselves in a new way, in a grounded and compassionate way? Are we willing to risk five, ten, fifteen minutes of active self-acceptance?

For me, those fifteen minutes car rides are now the biggest gifts I can offer myself in my day to day life. It teaches me I’m worthy of taking up space in this world, that my emotions are not too big or messy, and that I’m free to mess up without losing my identity and worth.

Will you take time today to venture a little further into your healing?

Because maybe instead of rejection and shame, you will find that there is another way to live today, one that is not anchored in earning or proving your worth, but rooted in the belief that you are worthy and lovable and good.

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