Hmm…how should I start this? What made me feel ashamed of myself? If you have personally known me for years, you may know I was born with super thick skin and literally have no shame *facepalm*. However, I didn’t realise there was a secret part of me that felt so ashamed of ‘my B-I-G emotions’ until a major meltdown hit me last summer.
I am not sure if you have seen a diagram of how much of an emotional roller coaster being an entrepreneur is? One hour you’d be overjoyed because you felt inspired by Jay Shetty’s podcast. Next, you’d feel overwhelmed over whether you are going to be able to deliver your idea to the world and feel so small all of a sudden. Finally, you feel like you should just give up. You begin to question yourself: “Am I making the right decision?”. Here’s what my emotions looked like in a day when I felt my worst.
My Emotional Rollercoaster
There was a period of time during my major breakdown where my emotions felt like they were constantly on a 360-roller coaster. My days would seem like I was crossing the above emoji keypad three times a day. I felt pretty weak and emotionally unable. I still remember there were days I came into the office around 7am and began to work. Suddenly, I felt like I needed to scream just to release my anger with myself, so I did! (If you were working around my office, that was me – that crazy workaholic wearing gym outfits for work who decided to scream it all out in the early morning #SorryNotSorry).
My extreme mood swings started to worry my work wife as well. She had to check up on me every other hour and ask me: “How are you feeling? Are you okay?”. She’d sit with me and be an amazing listener; hearing all of my darkest fears and help to work on a solution with me. It sounds like something I’d be grateful for, right? But in fact, it would trigger me to have another crying episode, because I’m truly blessed to be able to work with such an amazing team. I guess they were ‘happy’ tears?
Sometimes, I felt so scared of how was possible that my emotions could feel like this. I even questioned myself on whether I had bipolar disorder. Did I need professional help?
Whenever I felt I needed to seek professional help, something magically happened on that day. I could be smiling for hours and sending joy to people working around me. My energy could be rocket-high and felt like I could achieve millions of things just in a day. But I was also aware of my dramatic emotional cycle at that time; I knew I was going to feel pretty low sooner or later once I burnt out all of my dopamine.
I believe those dark days were definitely my rock bottom of last year.
Self-shaming About My ‘B-I-G’ Emotions
Every time the unpleasant feelings occurred in the past, I sometimes wished I didn’t have any emotion, so that I could just work, work and work like a robot. So that I wouldn’t have to think about what had just happened around me and feel those negative emotions. I felt embarrassed about my ‘big’ emotions. I guess this is related to my past – I worked at a company where suppressing emotion was a core part of their workplace culture.
I used to feel embarrassed if I had to cry to get over my frustration or sadness.
I used to feel wrong if I was angry with my performance and myself.
I used to feel inappropriate if I showed my ‘strong’ emotions to my team.
Yes, I used to feel that way BUT – not anymore.
The first lesson I have learnt is THE VALUE OF CONTRAST. I didn’t understand what the true meaning was of ‘contrast’ when other founders mentioned to me during our interview series, until I experienced them first-hand.
If you want to experience happiness, you must go through sadness.
If you want to be passionate about life, you must go through anger.
If you want to be energised, you must go through tiredness.
If you want to feel hopeful about life, you must learn how to struggle.
I keep reminding myself whenever I am feeling low or weak, I know how strong I can be because I know how weak I can be. Thinking of this reminder helps me get me back on track and fight more battles. When I think back, I am grateful to have all kinds of emotions – including the ugly ones – anger, frustration and sadness. This is because we are all humans who are designed to have emotions and we are NOT robots. Life would be so boring and dull if we experienced one same emotion over and over again!
The second lesson I have learnt is SELF-COMPASSION. I also started to love my ‘BIG’ emotions as part of my identity as well. The truth is, Kayne West opened up about bipolar disorder in the interview with David Letterman, he mentioned the most creative power is deeply rooted from his emotion. It gave me a new sense of perspective. I don’t think I am creative in an art form at all; but in a sense, I do notice I constantly think outside of the box and there were numerous amounts of creative ideas that come to me during a meltdown. So, I’d say my creative thinking is majorly contributed to by my emotional roller coasters.
Time to embrace your emotion. Honour it and be proud!
I found the best thing about embracing emotion is that, I started to see more colours in life because I am able to feel so much more instead of suppressing my actual feelings.
The third lesson I have learnt is WE HAVE TO BRING MORE HUMANITY INTO THE WORKPLACE.
When I first started Kossie, I used to think my life could be so much easier if we could all be robots that work 24/7. But I was so WRONG! If it wasn’t for my work wife and my team, I don’t think I would be able to come back stronger and be my best self. I did have days at that time where I lost my belief in my ability and myself in general, but my whole team never lost their faith in my vision. This sounds really lovely but let’s be realistic, probably about 1% of the time they lost their faith in me – and that’s okay. I mean, we are human and we do have those days where we lose faith in ourselves and life.
Interestingly, it was their strong faith in me that truly inspired me to be a greater team leader. You can also feel a deeper connection can be built between teammate in a workplace when we talk more about how we really feel, or even feel the love from the others. It is very possible to have your colleagues as true friends, especially as we spend 1/3 of our time at work during a week. The first step is to treat each other as friends and see the good in each other – then the magic will happen by itself.
Last but not least, I am a student here who is still learning to bring more humanity to the workplace. So dear teammates, please bear with me! X