Sometimes we can become so consumed by our circumstances that we don’t recognize help when it comes.
As I was checking my work email this morning, I noticed an email from a professional organization to which I belong. The email was a call for proposals for the upcoming annual conference. I receive emails from this organization regularly and usually skim and delete them…but for some reason, I decided to take a closer look today.
In doing so, I was immediately reminded of the fact that I was supposed to present at this very conference two years ago but didn’t. It was during a time in my life where I was struggling to navigate what had become a very toxic and suffocating environment. One of the ways in which I cried out for help was to reach out to a more seasoned administrator for mentorship. She was willing. She opened her office to me when I needed to talk, we went to lunch a few times, and she included me in the submission of the conference presentation proposal that was accepted.
However, I didn’t attend the conference. At the time, I’m sure I had an immediate reason that was valid but looking back, I realize that it was fear that held me back. Fear of asking my department for travel funds, fear of rocking the boat in an environment where I already felt unsupported, and fear of how hearing “no” might further impact my already shaky self-confidence that had been stripped in that environment.
As a result, I not only backed out of the presentation but I backed out of the mentorship relationship. I told myself that it was a waste of her time and my time and that there was nothing that could “fix” the environment in which I found myself…so I would just ride it out miserably until I could get out. Besides, I never felt that I adequately articulated what exactly it was that I needed in a mentor so how could anyone fill that role anyway?
Of course, I see it differently today because I have grown both personally and professionally in the past couple of years. To that mentor, thank you for your willingness and your effort. It was not until today, seeing that call for proposals, that it dawned on me that you were trying to help me—help me see past my current situation, help me realize that I could rise above it, help me grow professionally. I was just so consumed and defeated by my environment that I was unable to receive it.
Answered prayers come in many forms…and they are not always packaged in the way in which we envision them. Today I challenge all of us to be mindful of the ways in which we block our blessings by being so focused on the fact that we drowning, that we can’t see the life vest being thrown our way.