Yesterday I saw Mr. Casual Friday, intending to share the first draft of my mission statement with him. I knew he would give me helpful feedback, so I explained the difficulties I’ve been encountering with this aspect of my leadership class. He asked if the class focused on the importance of passion in regards to mission statements, which it did not. MCF asked how, if you don’t start with passion, can a mission statement be meaningful? This made sense to me; while I do seek balance, I use that as a tool. Balance is not a description of who I am or how I live my life. No wonder my first draft didn’t feel right.
MCF suggested I might be struggling because I’m not willing to open up in this class and asked me if I’ve actually shared anything? I gave him a couple of exempts of my participation in activities and even showed him my storyboard poster:
to which he responded, “So you have shared a lot.” Yes, indeed I have! Although I didn’t explain my poster to him in depth as I did here, I did use it to illustrate how different I am from everyone else in the class by explaining the two major differences between mine and the others’. As strong as my desire to tell MCF everything about myself is, I think just showing him this poster was the greatest level of intimacy I was ready for. I did say that it reflects my five core values, so he likely picked those out easily. I also mentioned the very small representation of my past, although he was no longer looking at the picture by the time I brought that up so he may or may not have interpreted the lightning bolt in that way. Regardless, I believe it was clear to us both that my choice to show him this poster was a clear demonstration of my trust in him.
After putting a good deal of though in to our discussion, I drafted a revised mission statement last night:
I choose to live passionately, authentically, unapologetically.
Today I typed this up and went to see him; I handed it to him and told him it was better than my first draft (which I never did end up sharing with him). He immediately asked what “unapologetically” means…I wanted to explain, truly, I did. I wanted to tell him how I’ve spent my life shouldering the blame for things outside of my control, how I’ve always apologized for being different, for being me; about the impossible standards I’ve held myself to, tried to live up to; about the overarching sense of failure which has shadowed me my entire life. I wanted to tell him that this is about me choosing to finally accept myself, to except the extremes in life which are so integral to who I am. I wanted to tell him that I’m done feeling bad about the fact that I’m different, that I don’t fit the mould and never will. I wanted to tell him all of this and more, but I couldn’t. As I tried to formulate a response, tried to figure out how to relate to MCF what that one word truly means to me, he was already letting me off the hook, saying, “You don’t have to share.” I slowly told him, “It’s complicated.” Before I had sufficient time to provide an actual answer to his question, he moved on to talking about the many different ways the reader might interpret this word, how it could be a good thing or a bad thing. I acknowledged this and complained about having to share my mission statement because I can either make one that is meaningful to me, or one that is suited for other readers, but I can’t do both. MCF said he thinks that’s what I’ve been trying to do, which I realized is true.
And therein lies the reason for the title of this post. Because, truly, I’ve realized I can’t create a mission statement that is both meaningful to me and suited to a reader. So, I’m no longer going to try to do so. The first draft was written for others; the second was written with a focus on being meaningful to me. This new mission feels right to me; this one is worthy of my labors. So I’m keeping it as my mission statement; what I’m not going to do, however, is read it in front of over 20 people in my leadership class. If my mentor isn’t sure what it means, they don’t stand a chance of understanding it. So, now I have my personal mission statement. All that’s left is to create its mask.
I’ve described my experience with masks before; I am rather apt at designing a mask to suit any given set of circumstances. This, though, will be the first time I am seeking to mask words without actually giving up what I truly want to say. I will continue to hold my mission statement privately, but for the purposes of my leadership class I will present the mask I create for my mission statement to wear in public. I haven’t yet decided whether this solution is more elegant or dishonest; I’m not sure that I much care. Perhaps I will even do what so many of my classmates are talking about and put my mission statement at my desk. Although this would of course be the “public-facing” version, the mask, when I read it I will still be reminded of my authentic, personal mission statement. I have not yet worked out quite what the mask statement will be, but I’ll get there. I’ll be traveling for work next week, so the earliest I might next see MCF is next Friday.
Once I have worked out the mask, I intend to seek out MCF again to explain my approach and share the mask with him. More than that, I also want to at least begin to explain just what “unapologetically” means to me. I want to answer his question with the passion and strength of a sub’s desire to please her master. In spite of the fact that these feelings are in no way applicable, it still aptly describes the depth and strength of my need. I have no idea what his reaction will be to my solution; however, he helped lead me there. As I admitted in a past conversation, MCF is well aware of how much I hold back. Yesterday he was the one to bring this up, pointing out that I can choose how much they get to see of me in my leadership class; naturally, I assured him that I’ve already been doing this! I’m not sure why it wasn’t more obvious to me that I could apply this paradigm in this way to ease the difficulties I’ve been experiencing in creating my mission statement. Now that I have a plan, I’m feeling far less pressured.
On a side note, I’d just like to add that, today being Friday and all, MCF did not disappoint with his chosen attire! God, no wonder I can barely string together an intelligible sentence when he looks like that!!! I don’t seem to have any control over myself when in his presence; I blush, I stare, I suddenly can’t speak without constant verbal pauses – it’s downright embarrassing! Ugh 😦
Back to our conversation today, MCF mentioned (seemingly out of nowhere) that he’s sure he confuses me. I confirmed this to him, and even went on to speak about fears I identified during one of the exercises in my leadership class. I told him how the first item I identified that holds me back was “fear”, and then the facilitators went on to talk about how fear of this or fear of that holds us back. Now realizing I was supposed to identify specific fears which hold me back, I wrote down “fear of all people”. MCF didn’t seem at all surprised – I think at this point he is pretty clear that I hold so much back because I fear the potential outcomes of trusting others even slightly. It was oddly refreshing to be able to admit to how much people as a whole confuse me without it being a big deal; it felt more like a casual conversation rather than an emotionally charged one. Yesterday, shortly before our conversation came to a close, MCF observed how nice it was to see me laughing. I whispered as if telling a secret, “I love my job!” He smiled and was also laughing a bit as we chatted casually whilst I attempted to forcefully remove myself from his office. I’d never given it much thought, but it’s very true – MCF has only extremely rarely had the opportunity to see me laughing. It means more to me than I care to admit that he cares enough to both notice and comment on this.