I had two weeks to write out my assignment. And yet, from the moment I found out that we had to write this essay, to the point of finishing it up (only just finished an hour ago — it’s due today) I have been gripped by an underlying, quiet panic. During this time, I did no real writing. And as a result, only began working at the very last minute.
I have become aware that there is a latent “paranoid student” inside of me. In fact, it was over the course of the three days of class last month, that I became aware that this side almost triggered by the rigour of a classroom setting with just the slightest intensity and demands of learning that I am experiencing with Level 2. This side that immediately cues my brain to perform, outperform and excel, when met with an atmosphere of competitiveness – something that has always made me very uncomfortable – is the side of me that also knows only one way to react. That is to shy away from doing anything at all. It brings on a higher-than-normal level of fear, crippling parts of me that are actually perfectly good to perform, rendering me almost paralysed.
I have felt this in the last couple of days before sitting down to write that essay – my brain knows what I want to say, but the overwhelm of having to say it all, the self-made pressure to do that exceedingly well, and the panic of whether I will get it right has made me immobile for the last few days. Until, I just made space for it, and broke down my expectations of myself.
This side of me has been hidden for so many years since I have made protecting it a default way of being. That it surfaced so quickly and easily in class made me see that it’s time for it to be witnessed and given a place. In the past I have made many easy, conveniently less-demanding choices in my profession, to protect this side that feels pressured or fearful of being in the spotlight that comes from performance and evaluation of it. Even though I have learned and loved Indian classical music and dance for over a fifteen years when I was growing up, it was the fear (absolute terror!) of performance that made me move away from it, and eventually give it up altogether. At my very last job, before I quit full time work completely 7 years ago, to choose working from home (which I now see, among other things, as an act of protecting myself from the competitive demands of my professional space) to avoid getting out of my comfort zone and doing things like making presentations and meeting clients. I was happier being the worker bee, and very willing to slog many hours in the background, while someone else took the lead.
In some ways, I have been feeling for a while, that the call and the draw to pursue Level 2, despite the underlying fear of what it will require of me, has also been a call from within to see what emerges and what is possible for me, when I stretch myself out of this protective, comfort zone.
Safe as it has been, the same space has started to feel limiting for some time now. It’s a strange thing to explain – even as I feel drawn to come out, there are traces of resistance that urge me to pull back and stay within. I feel both energies, simultaneously, yet pushing through seems to take less effort these days.
It’s like the need to stay safe, is making way for the side of me that wants to be seen, and wants to claim a new place.
It’s interesting to me that I am suddenly seeing it in this way – as something that is emerging that needs a place, without judgement or adding value, without having to run away from it, or lock it away. It feels like an outcome of the many months of personal therapy that is making me just that little bit more comfortable with all aspects of myself — those that are loud and visible on the outside, as well as the softer, hidden sides — with every passing day.
I understand very slightly now what it is to move from the level of the personality to get in touch with one’s soul. It’s probably in an experience like this — when I decided to pursue Level 2 — that felt like a call from within that pushed through all the signals of fear and need for protection that my mind was throwing at me.
Sometimes my mind gets stuck in a place, based on previous (sometimes traumatic) experiences that brought out fear or panic, for example, but I’m becoming aware of how the rest of me — my soul, specifically — is ready to move on from there. I realised today, that the slow, and honestly never-ending, work of meeting myself has brought me just that much closer to my soul and I have in some fleeting moments felt a sense of willingness to listen and the capacity to move to where it is taking me.
It is sometimes to places my mind doesn’t know can be refreshingly new and good for me.
One year ago: You ain’t been blue, till you had that mood indigo
Three years ago: Pedalling again