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I’m 48% through my 50-day cross country trip. (I used a calculator to figure that out, in case you’re wondering.) This journey has been all about connection and learning. Connecting with lawyers across the country, showing up as my authentic self, and be seen.
There are few themes that I’ve been noticing:
1. Telling my story opens the door to more truths. I find that lawyers are generally curious about this seemingly crazy journey that I’m on. Two most commonly asked questions are: (1) What made you do this trip and (2) How did you start practicing mindfulness? When I share my journey, in general, the lawyer seems relieved. I think because no one is talking about what it feels like to live with the constant stress/anxiety, acknowledging the difficulties of being in this profession, it’s a relief when they hear me say it.
2. Name the DAMN elephant in the room! This should be common sense but denying what is does not make it go away. Pretending that burn out, stress/anxiety, depression, and alcohol/substance abuse doesn’t exist or it only happens to those people does not mean it can’t or won’t happen to you. So, please. Let’s stop pretending that everything’s A-OK and at least be honest about it.
3. You are not alone. When we as a profession deny the problems and put on this charade, it makes those who are suffering feel completely isolated. Imagine suffering from depression, alcohol/substance abuse, overwhelming stress/anxiety that’s soul crushing yet not being able to share it with anyone because you feel ashamed. I certainly experienced this when I first started experiencing anxiety so severe I went into deep isolation – cutting myself off from social interactions.
The key to any impactful change is acknowledging that there is a problem. I think it’s about time we started doing that.