Birthdays, Trauma, & Self-Actualization
The journey for self-actualization and transformation is traumatic, causing distress in the most minute areas of our lives and challenging us in every way possible. We rarely discuss the post-traumatic growth involved at every critical stage of our lives, and in turn believe that growth, development, and self-actualization are not challenges that nearly end our lives along the way (at times).
Today was not a great day, yesterday, or the day before, and for weeks now, things have not been speaking to my soul in joyful and peace inspiring ways. Over the last year, the transformation I had been working on for so long had finally found its way into my life, and I moved beyond basic survival and into a realm of possibilities that I had never had access to. Over the last seven months, the prospects of self-actualization have never been more real, and diving into the exquisite ice-cold water of those possibilities has been life fulfilling and exhausting all at the same time. Today, I am exhausted, and quite frankly burned out by the immense pushback from systems of oppression and the fact that I am not done self-actualizing yet.
Over the last couple of years, I began taking my work in a direction beyond being a response to systemic oppression. This shift allowed me to reclaim the work that I started seven years ago to for and by individuals who are living it vs. just those who don’t get any of it. As much as I pushed due to the barriers in my own life, there was only so much that I could transform, until the last seven months when I moved into my current role full time.
This shift, while necessary, also presented different barriers that directly impact this work. Unfortunately, we live in a Capitalist society, and funding for a non-profit is essential for its sustainment and success until we, as a society, ingrain a financial system into our foundation. Unfortunately, that means, for the most part, to access funding work must be aligned to a degree with systems of oppression, and a complete divestment from systems of oppression has serious financial consequences. Since that funding is also what pays my bills, it has pushed me to reflect on my priorities as an individual, and the priorities of our organization as a whole.
Working for and leading an organization that envisions a world without systemic impression, we can not compromise on our stances for Belonging, Equity, Accountability, Self-Actualization, and Transformation. We can not compromise our position for building a Just world. But there’s an apparent conflict there. And with any conflict, it opens a void within us that is filled with uncertainty, anguish, and toxicity, and requires additional healing, love, and support for us to be able to push through the voice and get to where we need to go, self-actualizing along the way.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the self-actualized, or those on their journeys for living unapologetic equitable and just lives that speak to their souls are not the priority for support. I have more support today than I ever have, in so many aspects of my life, but the weight of building something beyond oneself and being responsible for livelihoods and lives beyond my own has been too much to carry these past few months, and I am tired.
A year ago, I had promised myself that I would never do work that kills me mercilessly and without purpose, and these days I find myself dying from work in a society that wants nothing to do with anything I or the work stand for. For the first time in years, I am not loving my Justice and Self-Actualization professional practice, and that terrifies me, but I also know that all that means is that the work I’m doing today is not the work that speaks to my soul, and it’s not my calling. And the thing is, I know which parts are my calling, which ones are not, and some of the gaps that need to be filled, all I need now is the courage to take that next leap of faith on my journey for self-actualization.
As challenging as this birthday has been, I am almost excited by the prospects of being in a completely different place next year, one where I am grounded in the pieces that speak to me and make me all that I am, instead of the things that are slowly killing me.
The work I do and have been doing for years is important; now it’s just a matter of keeping the things that belong with me and opening space for others whose soul is attracted to the things that don’t speak to me anymore.
Happy Birthday to me, may I find self-actualization and peace in this coming year on my path to being everything that I am and building a better world.