Fear can become so intense that I feel there is nowhere in my body that is safe. It is a feeling that crawls at my skin from the inside. Then, just as suddenly as the fear arrived, it goes away. If it doesn’t go away it at least dissipates to a point of bearability.
This week I have been at my residency at Goddard College. I am working on my MFA degree in creative writing. As far as safe places go, this is one of the best. Everything that I need to help me navigate the program is available. The faculty is made up of amazing writers who generously share their knowledge and wisdom with us.
That being said it has still been a hard week. I don’t do change very well. This semester I have a new advisor. While waiting for the first advising group meeting, I sat on a bench feeling like I was going to explode from fear. Fear like the one I just described. Because I had to do something that was new and unknown. I went into the bathroom, cried, and most importantly I breathed. I stood there doing my breathing exercises while tears rolled down my cheeks. I dried my eyes when the fear felt like something I could manage, and I went to the advising meeting.
I also attended a meeting whose content brought up some very painful things from the past. It was hard to sit through the meeting, but I stayed through to the end. Went it was over I went back to my room and cried. Talking with a friend and processing my feeling about the meeting helped me to bring my thoughts and emotions back into a calm place. I geared myself back up and headed on to the next thing I needed to do.
From the day I made the decision that I would do something amazing by June 1, 2010, I have never looked back. I may have glanced back to see how far I had come, but I never turned around to go back there. I don’t miss living in the shadow of fear and letting it nurture my every thought and movement. I will struggle, trip, fall, spend a lot of time crying, and feeling like I am failing. And no matter how hard those steps are I keep taking them. Walking forward into the next adventure. I may also spend a lot of time telling my family that I am giving up, that I can’t do this anymore. I am grateful that they ignore me.
Here I am at the end of the residency with a semester of work ahead of me, and a heart filled with more fear than confidence. I know that this is going to be the best semester I have had to date. I feel ready to go forward. And I know that there are going to be many days that I sit down at the computer to work and find myself facing an all-consuming fear. I also know that I will breathe through the fear and find my center. From there I will move forward.