We all have baggage of varying degrees. We’ve all had bad experiences. It’s what we do with that baggage that can, at times, define us…not as much who we were, but who we are.
Over the past 16 months or so, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I don’t think I will ever stop being thankful for the opportunity to come to Erie. Y’all have my permission to slap me if I do stop. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is how to find the good in my experiences at my last job. I worked there for over 14 years, but by the end of that time, I was struggling to find the positive in any of my experiences. I felt defeated. I adored many of the people I worked with, but I felt like my contribution was no longer valued or even valuable. (By the way, I still adore each of you…and I swear many of you have doppelgängers in Erie. Although, I have yet to hear anyone laugh with the same gusto as one particular person and I do miss that laugh.)
It would have been easy to hold onto all of that baggage as I arrived in Erie. But, I made the conscious decision to focus on trying to learn from my prior experiences instead of wallowing in self-pity. It has helped me to be focused on the positive and to share my genuine belief that the struggles we face in the moment are worth it as long as we can learn from the experience. As I mentor others, this is something I constantly repeat…if you learned something, it isn’t a waste.
A good friend pointed out something to me recently that I hadn’t really thought about. She observed that it takes A LOT of energy to carry that baggage around day-to-day and year-to-year. And for people who can’t find the positives in the baggage, it just keeps getting heavier and heavier. Eventually, it causes them to be so top heavy that they begin to stumble and may even fall…still dragging that baggage along behind them. I consider myself blessed to have the ability to lighten that baggage with every positive I can glean. Everything might not be groundbreaking or earth-shattering, but every lesson is one that was selected just for me.