From a recent conversation with Tess Edmonds:
I can feel the responsibility and the weight of leadership that won’t be so very far away now (probably within the next decade or so), and feel so, so not ready or worthy for any of it. But there’s also so much work to be done.
We’re no longer the very new kids, we’ve been teaching students who are themselves young adults for a little while now, we… have to be the grownups. And I don’t know how anyone ever becomes ready to do that work. I don’t know if you feel the same way… maybe it’s something you’re never actually ready for, but do anyway.
I fairly recently realized that part of my desire to be “ready” is really a desire to be safe - from errors, from criticism, from failing… and I don’t actually need that, nor is it even possible at all to have that, with this kind of work.
There’s also a part of openness and eagerness to learn, and humility, and that aspect I want to keep - if I ever think I’m ready, I’ll be wrong! But as you said, that’s not the same as being able to contribute, and learn more along the way.
For me, one of these things is probably going to be getting more help with my ADHD. Re-reading that above conversational snippet in light of what I’ve recently learned about rejection-sensitive dysphoria makes me realize that – look, I can’t do the work I want to do in the world without having the ability to take those errors. Those critiques. Those failings. Those people telling me that I have failed (even if I haven’t).
I have tried stubbornness and masochism and just Working Harder and Trying More and Wanting It Badly as a way to cope, just like I tried those things for being deaf, or having ADHD in the first place, or being a woman in tech, or… you know. Lots of other things. But there are other tools, and there are other ways, and all this energy could probably go somewhere better, right? So I will try… yet again.
I am writing these words down and putting them out there so that someday, someone (some student, maybe) reading this will go “oh, is that… how it is?” and be able to work past shame and struggle and towards whatever supports they need. It might not look like it to people who meet me, but i am wrestling with this mightily, and need a lot of help, but don’t know what shape that help needs to take quite yet. It’s a journey that’s hard for an adult who’s already supposed to have it all together, but I want to do the work I want to do more than I do not want to do this work that I seem to need in order to do the other.