Editor’s note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares a brave decision that was a milestone in her self-understanding.

One of the biggest gifts I have received while being on mission has been time to cultivate a deeper understanding and awareness of who I am, what I believe, and what makes me tick.

This is an incredible gift because it is key to self-growth. Once you understand yourself and the ways you are prone to talk to yourself, you become more able to battle things that stop you from being happy or peaceful.

This semester, many changes were made to the English department without my knowledge (which is problematic since I was the director of the department). Unfortunately, these changes were the icing on the cake for us in the language department. Last semester we had been laboring under a sense that our needs as faculty were not being understood. It became too much for me.

So, I am no longer the director of the English department. In my final semester, I am taking a step back from all things English and allowing myself the freedom to be a “normal” volunteer, one who doesn’t have as much authority over students and who doesn’t have to battle university administration every week.

As usual, along with that big decision came a big helping dose of anxiety. Although it felt great to be freed from the English battle, I began to wonder: Am I doing the wrong thing? Am I just giving up when the going gets tough? Should I stay on as director – after all, it’s only one more semester?

But here is what I’ve come to understand about myself and about “quitting”: I owe it to myself and everyone else around me to be happy, centered, and peaceful. Nothing is going to get better by keeping the status quo, and I am not going to be able to love those around me if I am constantly upset, anxious, and worried.

I have realized that it is actually more responsible to recognize when a situation has become unmanageable for me and subsequently for those around me. There is no honor in staying in a situation that keeps me from experiencing Franciscan joy and makes me toxic to be around.

For the first time, I am acknowledging out loud that I am my own toughest critic, and I realize that I have a bad habit of going after myself and beating myself up like no one else can do. And I finally realize that that kind of behavior is a conscious choice.

That’s right – I have the ability to choose how I’m going to talk to myself and how I’m going to move forward. Today, I choose to honor the fact that I did the best I could, to acknowledge how hard last semester was for me, and to be loving and compassionate to myself.

My plan for my last semester in Carmen Pampa is to be loving and compassionate towards myself so that I may do the same for others.

Reflection questions: How can you be gentler towards yourself? How does your inner narrative affect how you relate to others?