Summer is coming to an end – no, say it ain’t so! For me, it’s been one of the most eventful summers of my life. I got married, for one. I took many near and far road trips with my husband to visit friends and spend time with family. I hopped a plane to an island on the Pacific, discovered that I love being an “outdoorsy” type (within reason), and enjoyed a soul nurturing honeymoon.
I also celebrated my 2-year anniversary of quitting my day job. Since then I’ve managed the ups and downs of the freelance life, started grad school, and taught theatre in a Brooklyn public school.
The one thing I am sure of is that it hasn’t been easy.
I can think of many words to describe it, but let’s settle in to uncomfortable. It’s been so uncomfortable, in fact, that I just gave up writing this blog because I felt (feel) ashamed. I quit my day job to: go to grad school to: become a teacher. And, now, guess what? I don’t think I want to be a teacher (at least not in a public school). And that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed, and… lost.
But without the risk, I wouldn’t have experienced all the juiciness of these 2 years.
- I experienced incredible challenges in the midst of a classroom full of 30 1st graders. (Whew!)
- I understood how doing my best was (had to be) good enough.
- I sat with feelings of loneliness working from home – and then cobbled together a community of freelancers.
- I managed the ebb and flow of freelance work (well, still trying to get used to that!).
And, now, rather than stuffing these feelings deep inside, or panicking that I may be back to square one, I am trying to sit with the uncomfortable feelings and stay open and curious.
NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: Have you faced your fears and overcome them?
The subject of fear is a popular one on this blog. That feeling that you’re holding yourself back from doing certain things because they’re scary is no fun. I’ve written about it in several posts:
Susan Jeffers in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway says that holding the fear of doing something is many times worse than just going and doing it.
Tonight I’m headed to an educators in the arts social event at a bar in Times Square. It’s a networking event and I thought it would be good for me to go considering my new career path. I can think of a whole slew of excuses right now why I shouldn’t. I thought about inviting a friend to come with me, just to ease the fear of walking into a bar and not knowing anyone. But I thought better of it. My purpose is to experience this scene that I will soon be well immersed in. It’s to challenge my fear of walking into a social event without any crutches. It’s to learn a little bit more about myself and why this is a scary thing for me.
I’ve always felt better after facing a fear. Because, whew! I can say that’s finally over no matter how it turned out. And I end up learning if it’s something I want to continue pursuing. But I’ll never know if I don’t try, right?
See also: the challenge.
Today’s NaBloPoMo writing prompt revolves around the experience of a traumatic event.
If you were in New York on September 11th, I’m sure you’ve offered your own story. For most, I find, there is a sense of urgency to share their experience of this day. For me, I was walking on air. I had been cast in a Broadway play and it was the second day of rehearsal. I was elated to walk down 42nd street towards the studio, having no clue what had happened. The cast was filled with celebrities. As we heard about the events unfolding, these “stars” quickly turned into real people, all of us feeling real emotions and none of us more secure than the next.
Days and weeks after the attacks, I was met with a powerful sense of presence. My whole body tingled. I was not thinking about the past nor was I worried about the future. I was completely in the moment, seeing people on the street and in the subway as being a part of the universal experience of life. And I felt as though I was also being seen by these strangers in passing. We were all individuals but our energy was one.
When this sense of presence passed, a whoosh of fear leapt into my heart. That sense of security that I had taken for granted dropped out of me. I was still in a Broadway show, but everything around me seemed to be changing so rapidly. I danced with spirited freedom on one arm and fear of survival on the other. My dreamer self was overtaken by the staunch realist. Now, ten years later, I can see my trajectory as I slowly moved away from my artistic passionate self in favor of a “survival job.” And it is now with all of that experience that I see myself stepping out into this new life to get back in touch with my creative, present, enthusiastic self. Only this time my steps are much more timid.
See also: the challenge.
In honor of Halloween I decided to focus on FEAR. We’re all afraid of something, right?
Some things are concrete, like:
- Fear of heights
- Fear of spiders
- Fear of the dark
But what about the things that aren’t so obvious?
Here are some things that scare me:
- Fear of making the wrong decision, as in, what if going back to grad school for teaching was the wrong decision, and I was actually meant to go to design school, or culinary school, or….
- Fear that I won’t be a good teacher…or worse, that I won’t actually enjoy being a teacher
- Fear of not making enough money if I decide to go into a creative career
In a way, these are all linked to the fear of failure. About a year ago I decided that this was “my year to fail.” Not so optimistic a picture, you might think! But what I realized was that fear of failure was holding me back so much that I was nearly paralyzed. If I made failing an adventure–and a real goal–then I couldn’t be held back in that way.
Fear can actually be a good thing. It gives us information about where we’re putting our mental energy. When we face the things we’re most afraid of, we usually get the biggest boost of confidence. Getting out of our comfort zone sets us up for growth and helps us learn more about ourselves.
So, what is something that scares you?
And, what small step can you take to face it?