I followed the rules, got A’s, did everything “right” — and found myself floundering: depressed, suicidal, and struggling with eating disorders. WTF?
I learned a ton of things growing up: how to focus, write out goals, and work hard, the steps for doing a load of laundry, how to write an essay, ways to make friends, how to do 20 pull ups, and more — all seemingly useful things. Then I headed off to college and found myself drowning. I’d done everything I thought I was supposed to — where had I gone wrong?
With more life experience (and a bit more wisdom), I’ve learned I hadn’t gone wrong — I’m simply human, and life is messy. I needed to pick up some additional life skills on the social-emotional learning and mental health ends, and for me to gain these skills, I had to learn to build them in the real world (and that included some hard stumbling along the way).
Our kids have their own things to learn, too, such as how to manage their feelings and emotions and use them for guidance, and their personal best methods for making it through the challenging times (which happen for everyone). While it can be painful (for both them and us!) to become aware of the gaps in knowledge and skill sets (hello, doubt, confusion, and perhaps depression, anxiety, and/or other “fun”), these are some of the most useful things they’ll learn — and our kids will make it out the other end, no matter how bumpy the road may seem.
One of the greatest gifts on their skill building journey? Having adults close by who are showing up and doing the best we can navigating the messiness of human-ing (and it’s messy sometimes!). Modeling how we keep an eye on the thoughts rolling around in our heads, work through our own emotions and feelings, and take care of our whole selves in the day-to-day is hugely impactful (plus it generally helps things go a whole lot easier and typically work out better for everyone).
Thanks for showing up for your kiddos — they are lucky to have you. Let’s add some tools to their toolbox.
A bit about Robin: Now a mom and stepmom, I’ve played many roles over the years, including elite athlete (member of the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team), scholar-athlete at Stanford University, HR in high tech land (the food at Google was tasty), personal chef and health coach, and author.
While these roles have been interesting, I’m especially proud of my journey through (and recovery from) depression, eating disorders, and related struggles in my teens and early twenties (I was convinced I was a failure at everything). Life went in directions I never would have thought — and I ultimately made it out the other side in one piece, healthier and a bit wiser. In the process, I figured out I was doing okay as a human being (and so was everyone else).
A bit about Skip the Box and robinmassey.com: Stumbling happens in life, and today I love to share stories, talks, and food for thought as we support our children (and ourselves!) in navigating the hot mess of life and finding our own happy.
Much on this site is offered for free, along with some things we sell. Note that all free content is sponsor-free and funded solely by us; the paid products help provide this content and give back to our families and community. If an affiliate link is shared, it will be clearly marked as such.
I don’t have all (or any) of the answers (nope, not trying/pretending to be a sage from the stage nor anyone’s guru). I’ve found thought-provoking questions, bouncing around ideas, and seeing I’m not alone as I stumble along makes the journey a bit lighter and suffering a lot less, so my commitment here is to bring the very best of what I am and have lived and learned.
Take what serves, leave the rest, and stick in a mental note to self that we’re all doing okay on this messy journey of life.
Thank you for telling your story – with courage and vulnerability and wisdom.
I ran into a parent, and she told me how much your story meant to her son,…to hear a story of someone’s challenges and suffering and recovering and renewal.
T, High School Teacher