I do a lot of scary things in my day. I used to think it was incompetence, or lack of experience that makes normal activities scary. Then I blamed it on my anxiety. Now I am pretty sure I can chalk it up to being human. Being human makes me scared of things like sitting down to paint; like writing this blog post. Things that no cave person in their right mind would ever consider a threat to their survival. Funny how in a world of vaccines, air bags and warning labels on coffee cups we are still afraid of our own shadows.
We are afraid of loneliness, of poverty, of what's not even close to poverty. We are afraid of looking stupid, of not having the right answers, the same-as- everyone-else answers, of not having any answers. Anxiety over offending someone by what you believe or don't believe ( I will still love you if you don't believe in Santa and I am sorry if I said Merry Christmas and it offended you).
Last year I decided to be scared. I decided to be OKAY with being scared. I talked to people I was afraid to talk to in a parking lot after an art conference. My normalizing brain stepped in the instant my "be something bigger" brain told me to basically run down a car full of really scary (not at all scary) girls to introduce myself. My soothing brain told me that nothing bad would happen if I let them go. Vanna White appeared and stroked the pretty "box of mediocrity" that is so easy to climb back into. If I get back into the pretty, safe-box no one in the car would look at me funny for introducing myself; I wouldn't have a red face or not know what to say. I wouldn't trip when my heel gets stuck in fresh tar line and face plant into the front tire.
My "be something bigger brain" took a deep breath, stepped over my face-down, broken-heeled, red-faced me and knocked on the van window. Terrible things happened. I ended up making friends who introduced me to a whole community of wonderful friends who have changed my entire experience as an artist. I met my people.
I have since adapted an attitude of leaning (see what I did there- so clever) into my uncomfortable feelings. When I feel uncomfortable (sad, mad, bad) I try to recognize it as an opportunity and instead of reacting, I sit with it. My brain is telling me it is time to do something. It may be screaming "run away", or "You are a terrible person and your nose is weird"; but that's not what it is SAYING. It is saying that I need to pay attention to something. I'm going to say that again because it is important. When I feel uncomfortable and my brain is telling me urgent, horrible things it is time to think through the feel. I feel ____ because of blank. What is the truth in my situation? Is there real danger or is it an opportunity? Am I really a terrible person because one very broken person tells me I am? Is this feeling serving me in some way or is it time to WORK at letting it go? Usually my frantic brain is a symptom and not a direction. It's a flashing light but not DEFCON 1. It usually means that I need to say yes to something new, or no to something old and familiar. It may be saying that I need to correct a behavior or realize that I can't fix someone else's and to move on in peace.
I'm learning to take it a little further and watch what, who, or when I am avoiding a situation. It's been how long since I posted last? I got uncomfortable with the idea that I wouldn't have anything of value to say; That I wouldn't be funny and that was a problem because I have been funny in the past. I forgot that I am writing this for me and that the things I am learning and sharing here are relatable because even if I am writing for me, you are also human and scared of something. If you aren't afraid of anything, good for you- find a new blog. I'm willing to bet though that if you don't think you are afraid of anything you are afraid of a whole lot more than I am.