The past four months of my book tour have been a whirlwind. I’ve traveled and spoken to students, to Google, and to the Treasury Department in DC to name a few. I’ve seen people alive in their jobs and those beaten down by stress and burnout. I’ve sat with high school students in Detroit who may have had the deepest, most thoughtful questions of all, like, “How did you know the career you chose was the right one for you?” How indeed? For many of us, it takes a lifetime if we don’t try to know ourselves first.
If I could paint the tour with a brush, it would be brilliant colors. Each place had its own light and hue. As I flew from city to city, I had to tend to my own colors too. In the beginning, my friend Angela came over and did reconnaissance on my wardrobe. “Give that blouse away!” “Why is everything black and white?” “You need new shoes!” Worrying about fashion has never been my strong suit, as evidenced by the many ‘fashion fail’ moments I’ve had on these trips, like walking around with a dryer sheet in my pants leg, or duct-taping the heel to my only comfortable black (of course) shoes. Then there was the matter of whitening my teeth, tanning my legs, and highlighting my tresses peanut butter and hay. My stylist, Ebony, had a gleam in her eye when she said what I really needed was the full PB&J treatment—purple strands along with the rest. I had to beg her not to go there.
With each trip, I learned a little bit more about emotional fitness through the colors of the questions asked.
“How can I stay fit with a boss that isn’t?”
A: Find emotional allies, friends within the organization like you.
Control what you can in your job.
Think lateral moves within your company.
Leave the place.
Any of these can be solutions.
“What can I do to build self-awareness?”
A: Talk about your unsettled emotions to someone you trust.
Sit with yourself in stillness, or take a solo hike without headphones.
Attend a silent retreat.
These force you to slow down, and listen, and with that you’ll get a clearer view of yourself.
A Splendid Picture
If there were colors for gratitude and grace, I’d paint them now. With each trip, as new things were made known, I gained clarity around my own intentions for the book. Emotional fitness requires new self-knowledge and sturdy self-worth, then forgetting about yourself so you can honor some greater purpose. That’s the cycle. Something new gets revealed about how we tick, then we use it to build community and connection with others. We tame our self-involved habits and clear space for what matters–belonging to this world in a way that can be in service to it. I’d need every crayon in the box to paint the beauty, and wonder, of that picture.