Cracks in My Armor
By Kelsey Bright
At the beginning of this academic year, I found myself in the second stall of the women’s bathroom, quietly crying. The traumatic loss of my father earlier in the summer caused a glitch in my ability to hold my facade as a professional woman together. We often overlook the amount of energy we – especially women – spend to show others that we are capable. I put on my façade everyday like a comfortable, familiar coat or, more aptly, a suit of armor. I needed my armor because it helped define who I was, not only as a professional person, but as a human. The armor gave me the strength and confidence to slay self-esteem thieves masquerading as dragons. I had to temporarily remove my armor this summer. Within a 24-hour period, I accepted a new job and then watched my father sustain a heart stopping, fatal injury. I cried more in the weeks following his death than I had in my prior lifetime combined. I’m crying right now as I write this blog. I was overwhelmed, heartbroken and also naked without my armor—it was too heavy for me to wear during this time. Slowly, slowly, I had to leave the cocoon of my family and consign my tears to the pre-dawn hours, riding in the car, and later the 2nd stall of the women’s bathroom. When I show up somewhere after a tearful car ride or a crying jag in the bathroom, people can tell I’ve been crying and some might ask if I’m ok, but most don’t—they look quickly away. They’ve seen through the cracks in my armor and spied the vulnerable, scared women beneath. I’m ok with that. I’ve found that letting my guard down doesn’t lessen my effectiveness as a person/employee/mother/daughter/wife. As women, we often fall into the trap that we need to be perfect at all moments or face the possible shame of failure. The armor is just one tool that gives us the emotional strength to conquer our challenges. I will never totally shed my armor but I am comfortable with the cracks.
Following a few years at Finger Lakes Community College, Kelsey now works at Monroe Community College. She and her family live in Victor NY. Her father, Tom, was a lifelong Red Sox Fan.