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Lessons from the Winter Blues Part III

Hey I’m back with another lesson from the winter blues to share! Now if you thought part II came with some hard truths, I don’t know what to say about this one.  

This particular lesson was the toughest pill to swallow because it challenged me on the very level of my ‘being’.  

Y’all. I learned to shed performance!  

For those of you that are questioning what performance means or how this applies to depression, I will give you my definition of performance. Performance is when you function from a place of what you can do and what role you fill for others rather than simply who you are as a person. I have existed in this space for so long that I didn’t even realize it until my depression.  

One of the reasons I didn’t see the symptoms of my depression is because of my devotion to performance. I had started the blog so I needed to write X amount of posts. I needed to attend this class, this function, complete X amount of tasks at work, catch up with this friend, text that friend, spend time with family virtually, and this list goes on. And if you are still struggling with this idea of performance, let me put it this way: I found my value in my ability to produce based on others’ expectations of me, and when depression hit, I questioned my value if not able to fulfill those expectations.  

Performance isn’t singular or limited to just tangible expectations of what you can do. It’s also found in your emotional and social interactions. Go read the lyrics found in one of my fav singer DOE’s song called “I Try.” She talks about what performance looks like, from the smiles on our face, to the way we respond in order to avoid the hell of “their” disappointment. 

I definitely encourage you to go listen to the entire song. When I first listened to it, I finally had a name to this feeling that if I don’t show up in certain way, I feel like a failure as a person. This episode of depression revealed to me how performance has dominated my life. In grade school, there were expectations on how I act, dress, learn, and excel in that setting, and when I got my first job, I learned how to act professional in that setting. Somehow, I had made it to 30 and never found that “off” button. Until this episode. 

In the last part, I talked about having to redefine how I show up for others in this season. Part of that was accepting that I just could not continue to show up in a way I didn’t have capacity for. In other words, I recognized that I could not sustain a life of performance. I accepted that my worth wasn’t defined by what I could produce. And the evidence of that could be found in my episode. I was still loved by my husband, family, and friends. I was met with compassion and covering when I was barely making it along. Laundry still got done, house still got cleaned, my household still ate daily, my paycheck was still earned – my ability or lack thereof didn’t stop my life or those in it just because I had to live in the limits of my depression for a season. It wasn’t the end of the world to stop performing.  

My therapist always talks to me about “doing versus being.” I could understand the concept in my head, but this episode of depression gave me a real glimpse of living through the lens of “being.” I learned the gift of being present with myself and the importance of seeing my very existence as valuable enough.  

I hope this post prompts you to examine if and how performance shows up in your life. And I hope you see your value beyond and in spite of that.  

Listen, we are worthy period.  

See yourself that way.  

Come back for our next lesson dropping Monday 5/24!