Apologies and hurt feelings

Woman apologizing
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If you’re reading this post, you’re a human being who’s been hurt before. It’s part of life.

Also, it’s guaranteed that you’ve hurt someone else, whether intentionally or not. The worst part of hurting someone is when you do so unintentionally…and they won’t or can’t accept your sincere apology for the miscommunication.

That happened to me recently. I lost some people I cared about because I hurt them with my blog post about my unexpected employment changes. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I was and still am extremely hurt by the whole situation that resulted in my job loss, so I tried to write only facts without weaving too much emotion into the post, but I failed in that effort.

Once I knew I had offended others, thanks to one person giving me enough of an explanation to make me understand their point of view, I was able to edit the post to clarify. I feel terrible that I hurt people with my post and what they read between the lines. Perhaps I could have been clearer in the beginning, but I wasn’t.

It hurts that a few of my former coworkers felt that I said that their jobs were somehow disposable or that they didn’t deserve their salaries. I never said, wrote, nor thought those things for a moment while writing my blog post. I merely stated that my position was paid less and that I felt it would make more sense to keep a current employee than to fill the two vacant positions. It’s basic human rights 101: Me feeling that I deserve more doesn’t mean I think someone else deserves less.

Although I reached out to apologize, I don’t think my apologies were accepted. I never said or meant to imply what those others thought about the post, but the damage had already been done. In our office, we had “norms” or office rules, one of which was “assume good intent.” It means that we were to assume others had good intent with decisions, and we were to consider their point of view before getting angry. I guess that didn’t apply to me.

When I learned of my job loss, I tried to assume good intent from the decision makers, but I could no longer assume that when I discovered lies I’d been told. That was the end of good intent. I had to stop communication to protect my mental health. If that’s what my former coworkers needed to do to me, then I still wish them well. I’m not going to beg for their forgiveness or friendship. They still have mine. They were family. It takes more than one misunderstanding for me to write off family.

Of course, if I’m being honest, it hurt my feelings to feel so alone after learning about my job loss. I made a formal complaint with HR on behalf of everyone who lost their jobs or had to take significant pay cuts because I felt what was happening was wrong. I don’t know if anyone but my husband did that for me. But in the end, I didn’t have anything left to lose at the point of my complaint. Except (what I thought were) friendships that would last longer than my employment at the university.

So what’s the point?

There need to be more powerful words than “I’m sorry” sometimes. Most of the time these past several months, those words have proceeded condolences as many have died from COVID-19 and other ailments. Most recently, my family lost my first cousin on my mother’s side. She was only 45 and left behind a lot of people who loved her including a husband and six-year-old son. My heart breaks for that little boy having to grow up without a parent who loved him so much since I’ve been there with the loss of my dad.

Like I tell my kids all the time, be as kind as possible. The days are long, but the years are short. Life’s too short. If you hurt someone, apologize and try to see things from their point of view. Make things right if you can. If you can’t, let it be a lesson and forgive yourself. Because after all, we’re all just humans trying to come out of what has probably been the worst year and a half for many of us.

-Brandi Easterling Collins

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Quitting: Is it failure?

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Quit. It can be such a negative word. I’ve heard messages my entire life of “don’t quit” or “don’t give up.”

I use the word “quit” with my kids almost every single day in the form of “Quit fighting!” I laugh at that because they’re never going to stop fighting. When they really get into an argument that won’t let up, I make them do more chores. I figure if they’re going to fight, they might as well do something productive while they argue.

We encourage our children to stick with sports or their music, dance or karate lessons that we may or may not have pressured them into taking in the first place. Quitters never win, and winners never quit, right? But let’s get real here, what if someone legitimately sucks at something? Is it okay to quit then? Must they have exhausted all efforts and failed first? Is failing once enough to quit? Twice? Three times?

What if you truly hate what you’re doing? What if doing it crushes a piece of your soul with every breath? Then, is it acceptable to quit? Continue reading

What does depression (and anxiety) look like?

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Most commercials for antidepressants show people in despair, lying on a couch crying or dressed in baggy clothing with unkempt hair.

Is that what depression looks like? Yes. Sometimes.

But often, depression can look like a person who has their shit together. A career woman who gets things done. A soccer mom with perfect hair and perfect kids. A lawyer. A doctor. A musician. An artist. A movie star. A writer. Me.

Anxiety medication ads often depict a person having a panic attack, complete with hyperventilating, rapid heartbeat and sweating.

So that’s what anxiety looks like, right? Sure. Sometimes.

It also can look like standoffishness. Indifference. Disengagement. Irritability. Forgetfulness. Me.

Continue reading