This is a hard topic for me, because it’s hard to admit that something is missing, and question whether it’s your humanity. This is about feeling like I have abandoned myself somewhere along the way. Particularly because I have adopted a lot of armour and behaviours that I perceived someone offering professional services should have. I sometimes wonder if I have created this shell of myself, and lost my core.
With the COVID-19 social distancing, there are many different things being spoken about, and many of us are looking at our lives before, our lives now, and wondering what our lives will be ‘after’. It has also made me realise that I like social distancing.
In reality, my day-to-day has not changed much. I am still one of a couple of people going into the office every day. I am still meeting with many clients a day, even though the majority are now done via Zoom. My weekends are still quiet, involving walking my dogs, exercising, writing, and sleeping. But because everyone else seems to find this routine so unique, I have asked myself if I’m unusual.
Perhaps not unusual, but I’m certainly starting to realise that I am avoidant in many ways, and hence I distance myself.
I distance myself in many ways, and this is why I feel I have lost my core.
I write this on Anzac Day, having done a driveway vigil; and I always find that Anzac Day is a day of reflection. On what we have lost and what we have gained; on who we are individually and who we are as a nation; and who we want to be.
When I was younger, I was very passionate about social justice, about environmental and political issues, and I wanted to help everyone. I went into law to back a difference for people. But somewhere along the way, I realised that I couldn’t be myself to practice law – I had to be someone difference.
The armour or shell I created included:
- rarely smiling or laughing
- talking in a mono-tone
- not allowing my face to react (poker faced)
- avoiding the emotional support that many clients were seeking from me, because it was asking too much of me
- withholding praise of clients or colleagues
- valuing blunt ‘efficient’ communications rather than exploring creativity
- relying on myself instead of asking for help
In many ways, the above behaviours are not who I truly am, and I am covering up my humanity. To the point that I have often wondered who I am now. What is left except the armour?
I’ve had a couple of these conversations with women recently, that we are so many things to so many other people that we forget our own preferences. But it’s more than that. I have looked externally to model myself off a generalised version of the legal profession, and ultimately I no longer believe those behaviours best serve our clients or ourselves … or the practice of law.
Yet, how to add humanity back in, when I have been avoiding true human connection for over a decade? Particularly when I now understand that I am avoiding the connection from fear or getting too emotionally connected to an outcome.
If you’re like me, and you’ve experienced any of these behaviours, and you’re rebuilding or rediscovering yourself, please let me know how.