Two days ago I broke down. I was in my office and I had just gotten off the phone with an individual and it sent me over the edge. I started crying. I’m a superintendent. I’m not supposed to cry. I’m supposed to lead with conviction. I’m supposed to have strength and show this strength at all times. Crying is a sign of weakness. At least this is the perception right?
I think it’s crap. Yesterday as I was crying. I closed my door, and I had a moment. I was stressed and overwhelmed with anxiety. I had had enough. I cried. I’m an adult. I’m a superintendent. I’m human.
I’m not telling you this for sympathy. I’m sharing this story so that maybe somebody out there can find hope in it. I’m sharing this story so that maybe someday we will realize that mental health issues in adults is just as real as mental health issues in students. I’m sharing this story because I want people to understand that it’s ok to be human. To laugh, is to be human. To cry, is to be human. I don’t care who you are or what your position is, it’s ok to feel. You don’t need to mask your feelings to show masculinity.
This moment came on the heels of one of my children telling me that he cannot wait to be an adult because life will be so much easier. To which in my mind I was saying “I hope that someday you have a child that acts just like you.” Can’t believe I even thought that, but the words we are told growing up somehow tend to be the words we use as grownups. Thanks mom and dad. If only my son knew though how uneasy life can be for adults too.
Listen; we have a mental health crisis in this world and we need to recognize it sooner rather than later. We live in a world of disconnection but yet the world has given us tools to make connection easier. We live in a world in which we allow distrust and hate to penetrate every aspect of our lives, and it often shows up before we see the positives. Many times we fail to see the positives altogether.
1 in 5 humans suffer, have suffered, or will suffer from some sort of mental illness according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Schools across the country are faced with a lack of services and resources to help their students. Not to mention schools across the country are faced with many teachers suffering from mental illness. This is a full blown crisis and part of the solution is pretty simple.
Connection. Connection is the answer. We all have the need to feel like we belong. We all have a need to feel like we matter. We all need that somebody that makes us feel like a someone. This takes little effort. This takes us to programming our minds to see the positive in every situation. This takes us putting trust before distrust and love before hate. This takes us abandoning the selfishness of our own minds to open up and discover someone else’s. This takes us to use our ears more than our mouths.
I broke down. I’m ok. I do suffer from anxiety and I manage the best I can. I have many people in my life that have formed connections with me, and I with them. I’m lucky. But not everyone is. As we approach the holidays make it your goal to connect with someone. Make it your goal to make someone feel like a somebody.
Don’t be afraid to cry. Don’t be ashamed to break down. Great leaders are not fake leaders. Great leaders are human. Great leaders make mistakes. Great leaders can cry.
Merry Christmas to you all. I pray that miracles find you if you are in need, and I pray that you feel connected and loved every single day.
I cried – I’m human