In The Chaos
“All the best ideas come in the chaos,” Gabrielle said with a tone so happy you could imagine her big smile. It was a story on my local NPR station about upcoming college graduations and one nursing student in particular. You can listen here. But this student’s path to a degree wasn’t typical of the nurse you likely just imagined.
This new nursing graduate is in a wheelchair. In 2016, while home for winter break just one semester before graduation, Gabrielle was attacked by her brother. She left the hospital a quadriplegic. Fast forward a few years, and against the odds, just before the pandemic shut the world down, she gave birth to a little girl.
In those long nights of parenting with a new baby, she shared that she had to learn so many things about herself. But most of all, Gabrielle had to remember what she was capable of. “That was a real healing journey,” she said. “I had figured out all the things my body couldn’t do, and had forgotten everything I could do.”
I started to cry at the stoplight. Not just because the world is in full chaos, but because I’ve been in the place when all hell broke loose. While I never lost my ability to walk, I have forgotten how to move forward many times. I have forgotten who I was and what I was capable of.
In those hard times, I found myself leaning into self-loathing and over correction. I tried to work harder to avoid this feeling that I was lost. I surely didn’t do it with the palpable optimism Gabrielle has. No, it was weeks of crying and screaming into pillows for me.
The momentum of the chaos jerked me to rock bottom pretty violently a few times in this life, but the bounce back came, too. As much as I remember those feelings of being broken, I also remember when I started feeling good again. The little and big wins that made me feel alive.
When you’re in the chaos, it’s hard to remember that better days are coming because healing doesn’t begin like that bad stuff does. Whether it’s a layoff, a lost love, or something more permanent like losing a physical ability, the healing begins as a whisper of acceptance and nurturing of where you are today. Allowing your heart to be hurt. Allowing the pain – even if it shows up as a screaming into a pillow.
Only then do I believe we can start to see what we’re capable of again. That we can start to know the truth that big shifts can be the beginning of the next best thing for who we’re becoming even if it was never part of the plan.
While I wasn’t blessed with palpable optimism, the series of shit shows in my life are proof that endings can be beginnings in disguise. Three Ears Media is the perfect example. This company wasn’t born with a plan. It took a breaking point and a moment where I knew I couldn’t take corporate America’s abuse any more.
So if you’re in the middle of the shit and you want to quit, don’t. Today you’re in the chaos but I have all the faith in the world that someday you’ll look back on these days as a beautiful beginning.
Kat Kibben View All →
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.