I’ve been overwhelmed by how many people have reached out to me through this blog, LinkedIn, FaceBook, IG, and all of the other ways folks have of connecting with one another in these tech-enabled times. Thank you to everyone who has sent me your well wishes and support. Although I have not been able to reply to every message, please know that I am reading them and that I appreciate each gesture.
Of the dozens of notes I’ve gotten, all but two have been helpful. Many people shared personal experiences and offered potential resources for me to explore. A number of folks have contacted me to say that they too are living with depression. On the one hand, I take comfort in knowing I am not alone. At the same time, the sheer volume has made me aware of just how many of us are struggling in silence.
The responses that I’m having the hardest time processing, though, are the ones that call me a role model. I feel conflicted about that.
Not many people in the professional services world have talked openly about their struggles with mental health or depression. In that sense, just as a matter of limited choices, I get why others might look to me.
For me, labeling someone a role model equates to calling them a leader. The title has to be bestowed by those on the emulating end. In my experience, self-appointed leaders are generally mere overseers. When he delivered his signature “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon, Professor Randy Pausch received a standing ovation when he was first introduced. His response was to gesture the audience to sit down, admonishing them to “make me earn it”.* That resonates with me.
Have I earned role model status? Where is the bar set?
At this point, I’m questioning my own definition of success. And, absent a clear understanding of what it means to be successful, I’m having trouble identifying what it is that I have to positively model for others. Jerk Brain continues to beat the “you have failed” drum and it drowns everything else out.
What I do know is that, day by day, I’m working on becoming a person I want to follow. And, for now, that’s enough.
The title for this blog was taken from an Ani DiFranco song called “32 flavors”. If you haven’t heard it before, take a listen. It’s pretty good.