I Cried

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

4 thoughts on “I Cried

  1. As a public leader, I very much appreciate your transparency Travis. As a fellow educational leader, it’s diffiicult to share our “humanness” with the public. My anxiety too gets the best of me especially when I am vulnerable to my “humanness” in public. It’s scary, yet real. Yet I very much agree with you; great leaders are real leaders who live to positively impact the lives of each student.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheryl Overstreet

    Crying is therapeutic – SO much better than holding it in! Crying is human. However, writing about it publicly requires superhuman strength. The Superintendent’s job also requires superhuman strength. You’re doing it well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary Ann Murschel

    What a powerful message. You are so right. Being connected and feeling cared for is the one big step for those who suffer from a mental illness. Anxiety is rampant! If children can witness the adults dealing with life stresses and yes sometimes crying maybe more coping and working through pain effort would be learned. Mental illness is not just treated with medication. Just like a physical illness it needs empathy from a caring human as well as medicinal treatment. We are losing the human caring. The talk. The touch. The listening. The willingness to help. Thank you for sharing your experience and your insight. May your tears turn to joy. May you see the brightness of life and pass it on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this honest post, Travis. I applaud and appreciate educators like you who bear the burden (we don’t see it as a burden, but it is a heavy load!) of living the mantra, “Why not me?” We don’t assume that someone else will connect with “that student,” we do what we can to “make somebody feel like somebody.” Keep feeling, caring, and inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

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