I’m a professional communicator–it’s what I went to college for and it’s how I’ve put food on the table for the past 20 years. I’ve ghost-written a published book, wrote speeches and press releases for state senators, had articles I’ve penned published in newspapers across Oklahoma and I’ve written blogs in the past where I’ve opened up about weight loss, running, fitness, nutrition, policy and politics and even shared my feelings about a break up. I was never short of words, and never once felt as if the words were hard to get down on paper. But over the last year and half writing has been a chore for me. A. Chore. And I’m incredibly sad about it.
Just typing the words “writing” and “chore” in the same sentence brings an immediate waterfall of tears streaming down my face. How could something that has come so naturally to me for so long suddenly become so hard? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for several months now as I’ve tried to step back into the space of writing. It’s taken three weeks of vacation, the solitude of my 900 square foot condo, conversations with friends, therapists and even total strangers to get down to the heart of the matter. And the reality is…I’ve been depressed.
I feel somewhat ashamed to write that word–depressed. It seems sad to me and I don’t like to be sad. But I also feel an obligation to be real about my life because it’s just who I am–authentic and real and honest to a fault at times. And I’ve found in the past when I’ve done the most personal growth is when I’ve been able to open up and share my thoughts and feelings on things that matter to me in writing.
I haven’t done that lately. And there are a couple of reasons why.
Last year was a tough year for me professionally. Although I got a promotion in June to take over as the Executive Director for an organization whose mission, purpose and history is deeply connected to my soul and a place for which I am honored and proud to be associated, my work this year was hard and complicated and left me open to some very public criticism. Some deserved, some not. The criticism crippled me at times. It made me defiant at times. It exhausted me. And more than anything, it made me question my career choice and path in life.
I’ve felt somewhat silenced since taking on the role of executive director. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I view my role as leading a team of talented individuals and grassroots supporters to fight for a specific cause and that means fighting with a unified voice–not just my own. And if do speak, it better be for an important reason because my words have a little more weight now in the sense that they can be associated with an entire organization and not just my thoughts alone. I’ve had a hard time figuring out that balance–leaders should listen, but they should also lead conversations. Finding my voice in this new role has been tough. And more importantly finding my voice as Amber England the individual vs Amber England the Executive Director has been even tougher.
My personal life has been a roller coaster of emotions and I’ve had no clue how to process it all. I went through a break-up, a kinda-sorta get back together period, and then the final crushing breakup that ended with a violation of trust that shook me to my core.
I stopped working out and eating right as I went through this painful breakup. The weight of it all just felt too heavy and even though my head knew I would feel better after a run or a good sweat session at the gym, I just couldn’t find the strength to make it happen.
For all of the above reasons, I’ve been quiet and in my head. And in the process, I abandoned many of the things that had brought me such joy in the past–hobbies like working out regularly, cooking for myself, writing blogs about fitness, nutrition, health and wellness and taking on personal training clients at SWEAT OKC. So, my resolution for the new year is to be present again, find my voice, share it when I should and do things that make me happy. Hopefully along the way, I’ll help a few of you out as well.
I can’t promise my blogs will come with any kind of regular schedule or won’t be rambling at times and chalked full of grammar and syntax errors (sorry mom). This all feels so foreign to me now, but I figure the only way for it not to feel foreign and scary is to just do it. As my good friend Jillian has so famously said, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
As for the questions I had about my career choice and path in life, here is where I’ve landed: If you want to make a difference in this world, the haters are gonna hate, and if you let the haters silence your voice or weaken your resolve, they win. I’ve been doing politics and policy for more than a decade now and the challenges (both the good and the bad) of it fulfill me. I chose the right path and the right career. It’s not always going to be easy–but nothing in life worth having ever is.
Bring it 2015
P.S. The sucky part about walking away from my blog for as long as I did, is that I stupidly let my website hosting lapse without realizing it and lost my beautifully designed website and all its content. I’m working to get it restored and redesigned. And until then, you are just going to have to deal with the temporary ugliness that is SWEAT OKC for the moment. The new site should be ready for relaunch soon. I promise it will be worth the wait.