HELLO FEAR! WHY ARE YOU HERE?
by Sara Beth Patrick, first year Art Therapy/Counseling student
I have just finished my first week of classes at Southwestern College. It has been quite a transition. Moving from Ohio to Santa Fe, living in the suburbs to living in the country, getting into and choosing a graduate program to starting a graduate program. No wonder I have been a bit overwhelmed, excited, and exhausted. The one thought that has been running through my head through all of this adjustment is, I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I have never once regretted the move, where I decided to live, or choosing SWC. I realize all of the things that have felt uncomfortable have been because of transition. It is change that I welcomed and even sought out, but that does not mean it has been comfortable.
I think I have been living on excitement and a little anxiety the past few weeks; ready to get here, ready to meet everyone, ready to begin. So begin we did with orientation last week. It was inspiring and I found comfort in knowing I made the right choice for me and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. This program is in my soul’s language, but also in the language of everyone else’s soul too. I am surrounded and will be supported by such a diverse and amazing community of like minded people. My instructors, classmates, and I have congregated at SWC because we believe in the schools motto, “Transforming Education through Consciousness.” Although it may mean something a little different to each of us it is somehow still a common goal. Orientation emphasized that the goal is not to make me into something/someone else. Each of us is here to share our gifts, develop our skills, and discover how to best share our individual light with the world. Who we are right now is enough to start this journey.
This sounds great, to everyone but my uninvited companion Fear. Hello Fear, why are you here? I was surprised that in such an inspiring, loving, and supportive environment that Fear felt welcomed here. But here he came this week offering his negative thoughts, his questioning doubt, and generally self destructive suggestions. I knew what I was getting into by choosing this program. I knew this was going to be deep soul work that would sometimes push me to my limits but also bring me increased awareness. I am not opposed to doing this work because I believe it would be pompous of me to expect clients to do work I myself wasn’t willing to do. So why then when I know in my heart I want to do this work is Fear screaming in my ear?
I started to notice I was avoiding starting class work that I have been previously been excited to start. Fear isn’t always bad. It can be a great motivator at times and even a guide. Well Fear, you win! I guess it is time to have a talk. I started to challenge each of his ideas. Was I frightened of the academic work…. of becoming an art therapist/counselor who supports others in their journey… of attending SWC…of experiential learning…of doing the sometimes painful soul work? When I thought of each of these the answer was NO! Then what was creating this fear? The program at Southwestern College allows you to peel back the layers of yourself; the junk, the stinky thinking, the deformation, the good, the bad so that you can be who you really are. You can let the light of your soul shine and be a gift to the world. Yes Fear said, “You get to be you!” Then it was clear. This self truth that I have been seeking my whole life, to be able to be comfortable in my own skin and to speak my truth without apology or reservation. This is what I fear! Its not that I can’t do it or don’t want to do it, it is that I am scared to be me and confidently share my light with the world. I am not comfortable doing this nor am I ready to ….yet.
I sit quietly in this new found truth for a while, not judging but just being with the fear. Then the same message that has comforted me all week comes back to me. You are exactly where you need to be. All of the experiences I have had, the things I have learned, and the tools I have picked up along the way brought me to SWC, to this program at this time in my life. I know I will have the guidance and support I need along this journey, of that I have no doubt. It always amazes me how if you open your heart to fear and listen, the universe will provide you with what you need.
This happened for me today. The message I heard time and time again at the alumni event this afternoon was that the experience at SWC was so worth it. It changed people’s lives. I even had an alum say that although she loves the work she is doing, the program was worth it just for how it transformed her life. Transformation is sometimes unsettling. Ultimately it is supposed to knock you off keel, make you uncomfortable. I just remembered a message to myself I have posted on my phone, “Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” I guess this isn’t really new work for me as much as it is the right time and opportunity to start working on it. So I will take that leap, delve into the second week of classes knowing I am safe and not alone in this process. “Hello Fear, you are welcome to join me on this adventure of learning to let the light of my soul be a gift to myself and the world!” because ultimately that is why I am here at Southwestern College.