When I logged on this afternoon I had intended to lay down the bones of the skin care post, but two sentences in that just felt wrong- dishonest in a “well, this isn’t what I’m here for today” kind of way. If you write, you know what I mean: it’s a bit like being in a conversation where all you’re actually accomplishing is avoiding discussing something obvious to everybody in the room.
My Craftsy class release date is creeping up, and I’m caught in what I believe to be the normal anticipation- anxiety loop common to many first- time instructors: I’m really, really eager to get this going, to rip that bandage off and just get moving, but I also have these awful moments of self- doubt, of course, where everything is horrible and I worry that maybe I said something completely ridiculous. I mean, I’m putting a couple hours of video of just me, with my ridiculous face, doing one of the things I love most. Impostor Syndrome is just part of the package, right?
During filming, I had this great, well- cultivated sense of calm: there’s nothing I can do except be in this moment and do the work, I’d think, and that kept me calm, focused. Now, though, I’ll catch myself tracing back to different moments and wondering if I misspoke, if my grammar was jacked, if I just plain sounded like a tool. You know, that beating- myself- up, generally non- productive inner critic thing.
My frustration with the breach between comprehending a thing on a cognitive level and integrating it on a psychological, intuitive daily space is pretty steep when it comes to this. I understand these insecurities; who doesn’t secretly wonder if they aren’t somehow screwing it all up*– especially when we are given a great opportunity?
*(Corollary: I frequently wonder if some folks secretly or subconsciously wish they had enough control that they actually could be the ones who can mess everything up, solo. There’s not necessarily any shame in that- the world can be a big & scary place and we’re hard- wired to long for some measure of control, even if we won’t ever find it. We don’t have enough control to effect change on par with the amount of fear we feel.)
If you know me in Real Life, you’ve probably heard me talking about fear, recently. I really can’t stop talking about fear: if you give me enough of an opportunity, I’ll work it into any conversation. I have been obsessed with fear and how it affects us as individuals and as a society for the last few years.
It’s funny: after more than a decade working as a dyer (at various levels), there’s a part of me that is bizarrely yet quite honestly afraid that I’ll have said some vague, utterly unclear yet wrong thing in this class, and that this one wrong thing will somehow tank my career. This idea can occasionally inspire a real and awful sense of dread— that suffocating sort of panic. Some of you know what I’m talking about. It’s gotten a lot better since I’ve named it, though.
So, there you go, starkly stated: the thing the most I’m afraid of out of all of this. I thought it would be a different sort of failure that would worry me the most, but I said this to Sam about a week after filming- a little to my own surprise- and I was shocked at how much better I felt just saying the words.
There were a few important things about voicing what I was really, specifically afraid of in that safe space:
- I actually took a moment to get centered and get specific about what scared me
- Voicing my fears to someone I trust (and hearing it out loud) allowed me to get a rationality check: how much of this is just my anxiety, and how much of this is reality- based?
- Getting specific about what I fear gives me the room to make a plan, if I need one
Really, once I’d stopped just feeling— and, as generally accompanies feeling fear, either reacting or avoiding reacting to that stimulus— I could see that my fear was waaaaaaayyyy out of proportion. There’s nothing in my class that’s going to end my career. Where’s all that coming from? There are a couple of verbal stumbles, because everyone has them, and Craftsy likes to leave them in, they’re humanizing- I get that. Re: some epic kind of screw up… hey, wasn’t I the one who coined “It’s just yarn”? Hallie (an expert in these things in her own right) was there the entire time and would have helped me out in one hot second if I’d said anything seriously wrong— and the material has been run through by a content editor before and after filming with a fine- toothed comb, too. (And really: most students won’t even care that it’s me giving them this information, they’ll just be coming to learn.) I’m caught up in subconsciously thinking that I have more control and weight than I do. I am not all- important, or even all that important.
It’s pretty remarkable how quickly that anxiety machine can spin out of control, and how big those fears can become- growing from a pretty silly seed into a giant Audrey II with almost no watering or sunlight.
Fear. Frank Herbert was on this a couple of decades ago, my fellow Buddhists have been droning on about fear for a few millennia, and trust me, this is far, far from my last word- or even my first word, really, on fear. I can’t think of a single bad thing that has happened to me (outside of life’s random accidents) that wasn’t at its core somehow attributable to fear— mine, someone else’s, or a team effort.
I’m telling myself all of this to talk myself down, but I’m telling you all this, too, for every person who has ever told me that I look fearless. I hear this a lot but I am very much not, I am just super- great at doing things while I’m also busy being scared: it’s a good distraction. I’m also putting this out there because at least in the States, we don’t talk about being afraid very much, and I think that is a shame.
It’s okay to be afraid. You don’t need permission from me or anybody else to feel your feelings, obviously, but in case you were wondering, it’s a biological response, so you’re gong to feel afraid whether you want to or not. Fear can protect us from danger. It’s allowing ourselves to be controlled or owned by fear that’s detrimental to living things. We treat our fear like it’s a thing that belongs to us— as though it’s something we’ve carefully crafted, an inheritance or an endowment, and while it may in fact be all of those things we don’t need to wear it like a crown. We have the ability to name it, call it out, examine it, take it apart piece by piece, and hopefully move through it.
I’m still feeling my fear in waves and bouts. Things will be great, then I’ll go to my Instructor Home and see my class title card and it’ll kick off an adrenaline jolt in my– I don’t know, my everything. But this is a wonderful opportunity to work on anxiety & fear, and I’m all over that. Everything is going to be fine, I know that- I genuinely do, having put in the work, having had good help, and having worked with amazing people. This is a great chance to figure out what works for me and to work those things- long phone calls with good friends, intense physical activity (what’s up, arm balance/ handstand work), painting, and four hour playlists. I have a really good playlist going now, actually, with music that pre- dates Afghanistan— hell, there are some things on here that I was listening to in high school. How’s that for comfort music?
What do you when you’re feeling afraid? How do you move through it? What scares the hell out of you? I mean, obviously for me, failure is pretty high on that list— what does you in? And while we’re at it, how many of you are Spotify users? I just realized that I could share playlists with folks, if you’re into it. Anyone want a super mixed up jumble of music? (I promise that there will be something you really like and something you absolutely can’t stand in there.) Let me know— I used to trade mixtapes online, but Spotify makes sharing music a lot easier (and less ethically murky).