Careers, self-esteem awareness, and Kintsugi

Like most of us, I often put everything or lets say ‘life’ on a balance scale. I weigh the ‘musts’ and ‘loves’ on a scale and check whether I am standing where I want to be. The past year(s), there were a lot of self-esteem struggles that changed the weight of ‘loves’. Although I love to write, I am still in doubt whether I am ‘good enough’, whether other people would love to read what I write and so I often ended up with not showing what I wrote and no longer enjoying what I love.

Now I feel that I am growing in the sense that I am sharing my writings and use feedback in adapting my writings. But more importantly, I start to dare to share.

That is where the kintsugi comes into play. A couple of years (about 3-ish) ago, one of my ceramic flowerpots broke. I noticed how “perfectly” it broke. The shard was easily repairable and became a nice kintsugi project… on my agenda. I still felt unsure about whether I could fix it, whether I would be able to make the right mix to get the gold nice and shiny.

I stayed unsure about whether I am able to fix it the way I perceive it to be fixed in my head.

This week I read an article from Wolfgang Mayrhofer about careers and kintsugi (thank you, @Marijke for sharing!). And I started to realize that my career or employment trajectory swings according my self-esteem. When I feel I am good at teaching, I reflect it and project it towards the students. They feel my ‘teachers’ high’ (cfr runners’ high) and get absorbed together with me.

I recall one of my students (well, ‘my’; I do not own them) asking me a critical question about the syllabus. There was an inconsistency and he noticed it. It made me think aloud. Not about questioning myself, but about the issue at hand (it was about the recruitment of employees and how a specific tool could be applied and used). The discussion that arose, shook the schedule and planning of my course. Students also thought aloud and joined the discussion: “I interprete it like this…”

When I moderated outplacement groups, my mentor (very grateful for this, @Isabelle!) made me aware of how groups can feel how I am feeling while ‘teaching’ or presenting. And suggested to me to shake things up when I feel the pie is falling down or ‘in’. “Use your creativity to shake things up, I know you can.” It boosted my confidence and applying this in next sessions increasingly boosted my confidence. Participants noticed it and affected them positively.

But now, I feel like I am again standing at that point where I need to take one step, give color to it, and use it to rebuild my pot.

So, this week, I bought the glue and golden coloring particles/pigment. This week I will repair my pot and it resembles the self-esteem awareness that I gained.

This struggle is probably likely to reoccur or get setback; wake-up calls or unexpected events can shake people up and make them more aware of their self-esteem. But then, a new pot will be ready to make the best out of it. And for that instance, I have my golden glue ready.

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