"I was good at being good at things. I was good at forward thrust, at moving up ladders. You've never heard of forward thrust? It is the most central principle of American life, the necessity to improve your lot and status at any cost, and to stay one step ahead of the abyss that may open suddenly at your heels. Unfortunately, forward thrust turns out not to be helpful in the search for your true place on earth.
But crashing and burning can help a lot. So, too, can just plain running out of gas.
I quit my last real job, as a writer at a magazine, when I was twenty-one. That was the moment when I lost my place of prestige on the fast track, and slowly, millimeter by millimeter, I started to get found, to discover who I had been born to be, instead of the impossibly small package all tied up tightly in myself, that I had agreed to be. That was when I began to learn how to do all the things I had been taught not to do."
"I'm learning what it means to descend, which is so revolutionary it often leaves me gasping. I have been trying to ascend my entire life...The path of descent becomes our own liberation. We are freed from the exhausting stance of defense. We are no longer compelled to be right and are thus relieved from the burden of maintaining some reputation. We are released from the idols of greed, control, and status. The pressure to protect the house of cards is alleviated when we take the lowest place.
The ascent is so ingrained in my thought patterns that it has been physically painful to experience reformation at the bottom. The compulsion to defend myself against misrepresentation nearly put me in the grave last year. I was tormented with chaotic inner dialogues, and there were days when I was so plagued with protecting my rung that I couldn't get out of bed. With every step lower, the stripping-away process was more excruciating. I had no idea how tightly I clung to reputation and approval or how selfishly I behaved to maintain it."
Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted