I wasn’t coming out of design school, or finishing a really cool internship with someone when I launched this jewelry company. It didn’t happen like that.
I started because before using my rings this way, I was drowning. It wasn't good. At the time it was the most amount of things life had ever thrown at me. All at the same time.
I used to find nail marks dug into my palm, from clenching my hand to get through moments in my day. I felt like I had to stay optimistic, take on everyone’s issues and remain standing. But it was hard. So I’d ball my hands into a fist, quietly by my side, while keeping a smile on, listening, working, being there.
My husband had been swallowed whole by a wave of depression. Retreating from the world was how he dealt with his parents’ life; physical violence, never ending fighting and bickering. The second we decided to get married, we were pulled into it, as if by a riptide. Not given a choice, taken underwater and made to hold our breath. We were the eldest. As children of immigrant families, our auto-pilot was programmed to be there for our family. I hadn’t seen anything like their fights before. He knew what to do, how to stay whole. I did not.
Did you know there are limits to what you can handle? Afterall my mom’s nickname for me was, “911,” because I could handle anything. So I thought I was different. Turns out, I’m human.
Everything began boiling over when I started working at Google. The scope of the role was new, the responsibility heavy and the blessing of the job itself like another weight. I’m not exaggerating when I say you get stretched, and stretched again learning to stay afloat. All while still holding my breath from home. When my second manager in 12 months sat down with me for breakfast one day, I burst into tears. I was lost. I felt worthless. I was crying in front of my new boss! I was SO embarrassed, I made up an excuse and literally ran away. But I said I’d be back in time for our next meeting. Ever the dependable performer.
I ran a red light that day because I couldn’t see through my tears.
The thing was; it wasn’t just the job, or the family stuff, or my husband’s depression. Though each of those things were new to me. It was how I expected myself to navigate. I expected myself to know the answer, to be able to solve everything, take care of everyone and still learn a new job, build a new team. All while smiling.
The overwhelm was real. Constantly overthinking if I was making the right call, if I was doing enough, being enough for everyone else except myself. I was ASTOUNDED that I could be so depleted that I'd run out of anything good to offer.
I absolutely hated acknowledging that I had limits that needed to be managed.
So I made my rings into a promise for myself.
To see them and simply take stock of the moment. To see what I needed. To notice if something was depleting me. Not so I could run from it, but so I could add more of the things that nourished me back into the day. To be better to myself.
After all I made promises to everyone else in my life. As a wife, a daughter, a daughter in law, a friend, a manager, a people leader... To everyone I said, "I'll take care of you, I'll provide air cover, I'll be a safe place for you"
Why couldn't I do that for myself? So I began.
Those moments of self awareness became a habit. I got more help.
I told my boss what my full plate actually looked like. I got a therapist. Then another one specialized in trauma. I drew lines around what I would and would not accept at home. I said no. The more I shared, the more help I found.
Wearing a ring as a promise to myself started it all.
Maybe it empowers another woman to pay attention to herself.
Maybe she speaks up and says she needs a break.
Maybe she doesn’t feel guilty doing it.
Sending only hugs,