Knowledge is Power

I just had my final exam in my Geology class and considering that I thought the final was next Saturday, I think I passed, at least. Now I have next Saturday off and I can’t begin to decide what to do with that free day.

When I started this program, I thought I was doing it to just prove to myself that I could actually finish something I’d started (haven’t had much luck in that particular area in a long time) but as I celebrated my first year, I realized I was learning more about me, my relationship with my “cohorts”, how I work with other people in a group setting and how I handle time management, stress, deadlines and difficult content. The second year of the program I lost my focus, started feeling like I just couldn’t do it, it was too much, etc. You know, those negative thoughts and irrational fears that strike when you are least prepared to fight it off. I am now looking back to find where I went off track and regroup to meet the challenge of my third year. I love learning, I love meeting new people and I love finding out that I am smarter than I give myself credit for, more dedicated and willing to do the hard work to get the reward.

As I look beyond this program and into what I will do with all of this knowledge, I see endless possibilities of travel, teaching and trying to realize my potential. I believe that the greatest reward one can have is to serve others; not just in the personal service of say, a waitress or butler; but to help someone learn, grow and be relieved of their burdens, to educate themselves about their demons (everyone has them, be it mental health issues, gambling, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, physical/emotional abuse and neglect). In this regard, I feel that I have much to offer, simply from my personal experiences. I am eager to proceed into the next year of my education, with a renewed sense of purpose and much gratitude for my cohorts who have helped me, encouraged me, given me a hug when I was close to tears and above all else, believed in me.

This Someone

As I stand inside my mind

The colors of darkness I do find.

The blackness of extreme depression

Brought about by lack of possession

of clearer, lighter, brighter thoughts

of sunshine, beauty, things I have not.

To see the sun halfway in the sky

Think of it as rising to a greater high

See it not as setting, as to an end,

but rather a new day, ready to begin.

If the colors in this mind

Were lighter, sweeter, more sublime

I believe I would have achieved

the inner peace of which I’ve not yet received

Is there hope for this to be?

Can I ever truly love this person that is me?

Will I ever feel that happy glow from gorgeous dreams

Of touching clouds, embracing sunbeams?

Or will I always be so tightly wrapped

in heavy blankets of gloom; so completely trapped?

I do not wish to feel forever down

To hear only the drumbeats of lonesome sound

But change is pain and pain is growing

I cannot keep this all from showing

In weighing the fears of what is to be

Against the measure of this person that is me.

Can I rise above the fears that bind me

and let the truth at last find me?

The courage to do what must be done

is hidden deep within me,

this someone.

-October 1993, Gulfport, MS

Friendly Fear

I have been trying to get a handle on some serious anxiety I have around returning to work next week and in the process, I have come to realize just how powerful fear can truly be. In feeling my feelings, I have had the most difficulty with fear/anxiety; for whatever reason, it’s the one feeling that I cannot intellectualize or rationalize my way out of. It is the one emotion that has driven me most of my life. Fear of rejection led me to avoid relationships; fear of failure kept me from following my dreams and fear of judgement kept me from sharing those dreams and even most of my thoughts. Fear of feeling my feelings led me to my addictions, which led me to despair and a great deal of self-loathing.

I wish I could say that I have learned to embrace my fear, but that is not the case; at least not yet. I have come to understand that fear is not the enemy. Rather, fear is the first step on the journey to personal enlightenment and inner strength. If I can work through the fear and learn what is the driving force behind it, then I may potentially be able to develop the skills to see the lesson that it is trying to teach me. For instance, within my fear of rejection, there exists a perfectionist view of what a successful relationship consists of; if I am not perfect, then I cannot have a successful relationship (this is my flawed logic) so the lesson is that nothing is perfect, all relationships have their own challenges and the end of a relationship is not necessarily a failure. Understanding that all successful relationships have at their core the desire of both parties to hear the other out, be willing to be flexible, forgiving and most of all, honest. Not to mention being respectful of the other person, their feelings, insecurities and of course, fears. There is more than one lesson to be learned inside that particular fear. If I run away or close my mind to the possibility of having a relationship, I will never learn and as a result, not grow. But the fear will.

Hence, the title of Friendly Fear. I am learning that Life is a series of lessons and I am the eternal student. I will be a student for the whole of my life here on Earth and perhaps even beyond that. I will return to work with my friendly fear, a plan of action and a whole lot of deep breathing and centering. It will be interesting to discover what lesson is to be learned this time.

Breathe, breathe deeply, breathe out and breathe in. Fear please leave me, hope please come in. Lesson to be learned, show yourself to me; strength to learn and faith to see.