The HAY campaign has really taken off to levels that I’m sure the Shane’s could have only dreamt of. I have said to Shane McCarthy before that it may be one of the best strengths of the Grassroots Gazette and Equitas that he hasn’t grow up around horses – because what person who has grown up in the industry would have thought that we could run a campaign that would be supported by so many governing bodies, groups and individuals within the industry – that everyone across racing, eventing, show jumping, dressage, happy hackers would unite behind a common cause. I suppose, the fact that they all did shows the importance of the campaign. In an industry where we become accustomed to keeping our heads down, our fingers crossed and our work rate up, we also become accustomed to plugging away, despite having a cold, a bad back or struggling that day. The message that it is ok to ask for help, to pick up the phone and have a chat to someone and say; HAY, How Are Ya?; and mean it is so important. I have loved the honesty of the various interviews across the week and a bit and I love the conversations that it has started – even if one of them made me feel slightly called out by my housemate.
I shall set the scene. We are driving home from work and discussing our reactions to the same circumstances. Had you been sitting in the car with us, you would be forgiven for wondering how we are friends, never mind live together, based solely off how different our way of processing and coping is. She made a statement and I stopped her and said something along the lines of “Hold on a second, how can you be so kind and empathetic to other people, and yet, you were really struggling for a while and can’t seem to give yourself credit for getting through it, and are being so critical of something that was a coping mechanism? You were doing the best you could with what you had at the time”. The conversation continued for another while until it stopped abruptly. I made a statement. And then I got “the look”. Everyone has one. It is that look that says “I have a response that will entirely shut down what you have said but you said it first so now you can’t even tell me that I am wrong”. It is a look that is usually reserved for the Dáil, your mother in laws house, or in extenuating circumstances – close friends. And I got it. Alongside a response that in academic circles would be considered plagiarism. And it got me thinking.
I seem to withhold empathy for myself because I don’t know that I am worth it – and if I am, at what point does empathy for myself become excuses? I have really high standards that I expect myself to reach, standards that can make perfection look like an easy feat. So it is unsurprising that I consistently don’t meet those standards. No one could, and I would even say no one should as they are so unrealistic. Yet, I still beat myself up over not reaching them. I don’t have the patience with myself to say that I am learning a new skill, or getting through a traumatic life event with as much grace as I can muster. Mistakes feel world ending and all encompassing. I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop with the work I do with the Grassroots Gazette and Equitas. I am still subconsciously waiting for the call to say that actually, I’m just not good enough for it and should pack it in. I would be devastated, but then would probably rationalise it by saying how kind they were to let me feel involved in such a powerful movement for so long.
I see it clearest when others are commenting on me or something I have done. When someone is critical, I will ask why and try to genuinely understand. I hate hearing the criticism but it is where I am comfortable, a thought process I understand. Compliments? I have felt my whole body recoil at even typing the word. I really appreciate them – I just have no clue what to do with them. Firstly, because I don’t think I have achieved enough to have received it. I tend to run on the assumption that if I can do it, then it couldn’t be that hard, could it? But also because I genuinely don’t see why I have been given it, and I won’t even try to understand. I thank the person, brush it under the rug and comment on the weather. Ireland really is a great place to use the weather as an avoidance technique.
I think and dream in vivid imagery. I have goals I want to achieve and targets I want to hit. I believe in the relentless pursuit of excellence, in being the best version of myself and in being a leader who creates space for other to be able to achieve. What I need to get used to, is that the process isn’t linear. The road to success will be paved with good intentions, road blocks, glass ceilings and attemps. There will be times where I will thriving, and other times where I will be in survival mode – doing the best I can with the resources I have. None of the external factors should have an impact on my own feeling of self worth. I should value myself on the good days and on the bad. For now, I am trying to externalise situations and try to figure out what I would say if I was talking to someone else. I will be able to reinternalize it, but part of my logic of being kinder to myself, is to take small steps, that can become big ones.
Be kind to yourselves.