Hi, I’m Sara
Even though I am a shy introvert, I like large gatherings when it comes to meetings or classes; I can always find a seat at the back and still participate by being present without saying a word. When I was in my Communications Law and Ethics class in college, my professor called on me to answer a yes or no question that I still think about today.
“Sara, I want you to imagine you’re the editor of a newspaper and you notify a subject that you are about to run an unfavorable article about them. They start making threats. So, do you run the story?”
These types of scenarios are precisely why I preferred to take online classes when I could. This class had about 75 students; it was the nightmare of all nightmares for me.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’d probably talk to my boss about it and let them decide.”
“No. You’re the boss, Sara. It’s your decision to make,” he said. He then continued the lesson without asking me to elaborate.
I have never longed to be a leader; I don’t trust my knowledge or my intuition enough to believe I, alone, can make tough decisions. You can probably guess where this is going because now I’m faced with the ultimate leadership role: I’m a mom.
I remember the foolish moment after my son was born when I woke up after two hours of sleep and said to myself, “This isn’t so bad.” I was still full of adrenaline from having gone through a complicated and long labor process.
When I finally got home and walked into my apartment with my son, I panicked. I had no idea what I was doing. I have dyslexia and adult ADHD so reading books during my pregnancy didn’t happen. I read a lot of articles and I participated in online groups that led me to believe I had all of the tools I needed to be the best mom.
Of course, I didn’t and my experience with motherhood so far has taught me that it’s okay to not know. The benefit of asking people for help when you’re a shy introvert like myself is that you are forced to talk to people and engage in vulnerable conversations. This was incredibly helpful because I live 1,500 miles away from my closest friends and family. I couldn’t acknowledge it then, but it took me a lot of courage to admit to others that I needed help. When I was a kid, I once sliced my cuticle by reaching too close to some thorns to grab a toy. Instead of asking my friend for help and a bandaid, I told her I had to run home and use the bathroom.
Tearing down the emotional walls I have crafted over the years to protect myself from feelings of vulnerability have allowed me to create stronger relationships with people in my life.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not perfect at all. There are still days when I feel alone in my struggles as a mom. Sometimes social media can be a great way to connect with communities of fellow moms to share my frustrations with online.
Although, I have recognized that some of the communities I was part of in the beginning were able to provide support, a lot of them were echo chambers that led me down a rabbit hole of paranoia. I finally decided to remove myself from the majority of online groups I was a part of and stopped following accounts on Instagram and Twitter that made me second guess all of my decisions. When you’ve experienced various forms of gaslighting over the years, you don’t trust yourself to know the right thing to do. I’ve been working with my therapist a lot about recognizing that everything I see and read online isn’t always authentic, even the so-called “real-life” posts that attempt to be relatable; being skeptical, questioning the intent, and engaging with people offline are good exercises to practice.
I don’t know how much my son will learn from me as I raise him; I don’t know if he’ll find the lessons I teach him valuable or not. The one thing I hope I can pass on to him is that he can trust himself to make the decisions he needs to make when he’s older, even if they are wrong. No leader is perfect, not even mom, and that’s okay. Together, we’ll figure it out.
***Sara is a graphic designer at Occidental College and lives in Los Angeles. She’s the mother of a cute toddler, Calvin, and Selina Kyle, the cat.***