Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fear and other absurd realities

It has been way too long since my last entry.  I knew it was there, just waiting to be written, but I could not get any words on the page.  Instead, I have spent countless hours checking "the facebook", following tweets, reading (well a few minutes before I conk out right on time at ten!), sending text messages, and generally *not* writing anything.  I have spent equal amounts of time trying to figure out WHY I have so much trouble getting the words on the page.

Here is my conclusion:  Fear.

Fear of not writing well.
Fear of offending someone or saying something that someone else will judge.
Fear of not being witty enough. Or smart enough. Or interesting enough. Or...or...or...
Fear of "too".  Too trite.  Too serious. Too full of myself. Too boring.
And most importantly, fear of my own words.  That once I write it, and send it out into the world, I will realize that was not what I meant at all. That when I say something, I need to commit to it.  To own it.  To be able to stand up and defend it, or support it, or justify it in some way.

But here is the thing:  I write my feelings.  I should not fear how I feel.  I should not defend or justify or support my feelings.  I write so that I can understand and share my inner thoughts, and my emotional reactions to things, and my heart and soul.

What is fearsome about that?

To be fair to myself, I have had past experiences of being judged or belittled or ridiculed or, worst of all, ignored when I have expressed myself and shared my innermost feelings.  No wonder I find it hard to speak up (or write up, in this case).  Who wants to go through that?  Better to just be quiet.  Keep it inside. Until you explode, bursting with all the sadness and rage and joy and fear unexpressed until you cannot contain it any more!

Which brings me to my children.

Their emotional lives are HUGE.  They feel their feelings and express themselves in raw, explosive and brilliant ways.  They have the potential to be anything, do anything, feel anything.  But at what cost?  The environment they learn in, that I work in, is emotionally and creatively stifling.  It is about test scores and following rules and shouting and tantrums and frustration.  They are not encouraged to express themselves, but to conform, to fit in, to "just do what (fill in well-behaved child's name) is doing."  And this is a problem.  Even when they should be able to be creative, in writing or singing or painting, the rules are rigid, the curriculum scripted, the expectations expected but not expanded.  They are nurtured by some, belittled by others.  The "worst offenders" are the ones with the most vibrant emotional lives, the ones who do not fit in, do not conform, and therefore are on the outside trying to be heard.

But they are also learning fear. Fear of being who they are.  Fear of not achieving.  Fear of being belittled, judged or, worst of all, ignored.  I don't want this for them.  Or for myself.  I want them to learn to express themselves, to feel and own their emotions, so that one day, when they are grown like me, they will not have to struggle to get words out.

I will end this with something that really speaks to me.  I received it from a colleague during a rare and wonderful workshop where I actually felt empowered and rejuvenated.  This is I believe from Marianne Williamson, but was spoken also by Nelson Mandela.  It resonated with me in all this mulling about fear:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I've discovered your blog through following you on Twitter, I'm a singer (and singing teacher so we've got something in common :-)) over on the other side of the pond. Love your posts, they are so thought provoking, especially for one who also woks with other peoples children....hope you'll keep blogging!