Good Morning, My Spirit Guides!
Up early, today, indeed! Much before sunrise. The dark, dark of night, and today again the temperature has dropped into the teens.
I am up early to go to a training today, to learn something fun and new. It’s for the retail work I’m doing. A couple nights ago, I also submitted applications to be considered for training as an instructor for kayak and paddleboard.
All of these are new skill sets for me, and I’m excited that I may get the chance to explore them more deeply. I’ve been drawn to kayaking for a while, but have yet to try it. And, watching video of people enjoying stand-up paddleboarding, it looks like a lot of fun.
This is all new territory for me – and now I’m not referring to the new activities themselves, but of me entering again into the world of the beginner, of the curious, of the not knowing.
This is the product of being released from my fears. Previously, my fear inhibited me from journeying into the realm of “don’t know” and “not sure.” I feared being seen struggling with things that “should be easy.”
I had defeated my fears once before, or so I thought. When I dared to go back to college, after many years away, the first class I took was the one I had heard was the toughest, the class I feared the most – Physics.
And, I actually enjoyed the class. I found it interesting, informative, and challenging. I loved how it explained and defined the phenomena of our natural world.
When I was taking those first classes, I hadn’t told my parents I had re-enrolled. I wasn’t sure that I might not just fail those first classes straight away, ending the whole idea of earning my college degree. And, if I did flunk out, I guess my plan was that I might never even mention to my parents that I had attempted going back.
Strange as it may seem, I think the fact that I did do well, got good grades that second time around, and even was invited to work as a research assistant on a grant project – actually hurt me, in a way. At the time, it actually reinforced my fear of failure, in this way – the way I was seeing it, the defeat of my fear had been delivered by my success.
Now, these were changing, formative years for me in another way. My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease during the time I was back at college. I remember trying to balance a full course load, my work in the field and laboratory for the research project, and the commute back for my full-time pharmacy job; all while trying to remain available and involved in my dad’s care.
I felt…untethered. Lost and adrift. I wasn’t sure what mattered or what had value.
I can also see, now, how I desired my dad’s recognition and acknowledgement of me and my efforts. How that had always been a goal. But, that was impossible now.
I remember surprising my mom on Mother’s Day, taking her for a drive. We ended up at UConn, and she got to see me walk for graduation. When we got back home, she insisted I put my cap and gown back on for my dad. He was at a point, though, where it just confused him; it meant nothing to him.
This is raw for me to talk about.
I believe somewhere in all that, I disconnected from any feeling of achievement or success. I lost perspective for celebrating my efforts and my journey, for persevering through my fears and doubts. Somehow, my confidence and value became more focused and more needy of others’ judgment and approval; perhaps as a substitute for my father’s.
That sense of being untethered, lost, and adrift continued. My “need” for others’ approval increased my fears and self-doubt.
Here I will leave things until tomorrow…
And, my offer of a Prompt:
Identify five or six people whose opinions are influential to you, whose judgment of you matters to you. Can you think of examples when you desired their approval? In many ways, these people really define your “everybody.”
Thank You for being by my side, Dear Guides!