Also “The longly awaited long post”.
I think I can say that it was doing/making that saved me.
Last year (2011 actually) my friends and I decided to give ourselves symbolic presents, and we would be drawing lots. Everyone had to bring an object that represented a good personal quality we would have liked to gift the others with. I brought a small plastic button, shaped like a strawberry, it came from my kindergarden smock. To me it represented something small and modest that yet is a part of my creative supplies, because I realized that when I’m baking, making bijoux or else, I’m never down.
I mean: I’m committed, I try and I try again untill things turn out the way i want, I get mad and I find unconventional solutions, and in the end I’m always satisfied by my work, there’s nothing people can say to turn me down.
And realise I could “give away” such a self confidence was enlightening.
During the year I understood that to this confidence two things are linked, or maybe are already part of it, two really important things: the focus I have while I’m creating, the attention to the moment and to the “doing” itself, being “here and now”, without thinking about the outcome or what people will say, without any anxiety or expectation, simply being attentive and careful with what I’m doing. A kind of trance, to avoid cutting myself and to translate practically what I’ve got clear in mind.
The other fundamental thing is learning, accepting and comprehending that, just like artistic creations, that in life you can’t do everything perfect, quickly at the first try, but you need to move on bit by bit, firstly you outline the basic shapes, you prep everything you need, then you add details and polish it all. Mistakes can be corrected and imperfections make it all more interesting. Who’s judging doesn’t know what it means to be doing something, and those who know may help with constructive criticism. And last but not least what really matters is being open to advices but always follow your own tastes.
I could witness that if and when I let my passions live like this, things start to flow smoothly.
Of course it has been really important to have Sa (we’ll get to this ;)) and a group of friends close to me, to support me, and share projects and ideas with them. These friends also helped in reassuring or pushing me when needed, but most of all they helped me in learning that my paranoias are really common.
Yes, but what kind of paranoias? When I turned 20 I thought I was way too old to be making somehting out of my life, that it was way too late to even start anything.
That I had too many interests in things but not a real, leadng passion, and since I had too many I would have never be excellent in any of them.
I thought I had more paranoias, but in the end they all come down to these. Writing them down so simply makes me realise the underlying silliness. But it took me a while to get here, I’ve always understood rationally that these weren’t logical issues, but I’ve never really understood it on an emotional level, and mostly not on a practical level.
I tried to overcome my shyness only through words, talks, and logics, while I wasn’t challenging myself on the emotional side… therefore there was no practical challenge!
I read this a thousand times at least: doing is the solution. But if you keep doing while obsessing over “Let’s see if I’m turning out more self confident”… well, of course it’s not going to work! Also because, as they say, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
I was way too concearned with my own shyness (even though I was focused on it to solve it, but it was shyness I was thinking) to be able to focus -and therefore attract- anything else.
So I decided to put aside my shyness for a while -like a math test that is too hard, you skip it, finish your test, and then get back at the first exercise if you have time left- and to do something else (moving, breaking down, a group of friends, cherish my spirituality, travel, blog, diy) and without even realise it focusing my attention on “doing” made the rest disappear.
If I look back I think it’s strange I ended up here: because I’ve always had quite a strong personality. I’ve had a few friends that were selfconscious and they looked up at me for “inspiration”. I’ve always felt like a tomboy with my male friends. I’ve enjoyed being the white fly, the solo voice out of the choir, Mary Mary quite contrary. I’ve always been proud of my indipendent thought and of my tastes (I’ve been an artemis-woman 100%! To say it like dr Shinoda Bolen). When my family needed I’ve been “their rock” (and I’m quoting literally) more than once.
Then something happened, and I can’t pinpoint what, an heartattack, friendships and relationships gone wrong, maybe all those changing years summed up and I dried down a little, I kinda lost myself and I felt the need to keep everything under control and to be liked by everyone. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was feeling week or I though I had something to pay for. But now I feel I’ve recovered from “the old me” what I needed.
Ok, sometimes I’m still so naive to think that everyone is trustworthy like me… but why on earth is it always me being naive and never them being assholes???
Basically, at some point in my life my shyness was way too overwhelming. I don’t want to sit here and wonder why or how, point my finger or else. After all to get out of shyness spending years (years, I swear) trying to find out what the cause was has been plain useless.
Yes, many people say that once you find the cause you’re good… but what if there is no cause? Take me… I wasn’t oppressed by my family (even though they have quite good expectations about me), there was no traumatic event (ok, I couldn’t save myself from some poor figures, but nothing huge), it simply and slowly grew on me and at some point it was big and difficult to get rid of. Like a weed. Who cares where it came from or how or why or when, just tear it!
The base for it all was a good level of self consciousness… given by an excessive perfectionism: I have a quite high opinion of myself, of my skills and abilities, and of what I can accomplish, I have the biggest expectations for myself. I am my cruelest judge. This all turns out in sitting and judging myself for things I wasn’t doing, since doing them meant I would have judged myself even worse because those things I (didn’t) do wouldn’t have been done perfectly in a second. Yes, this is crooky and insane.
Add to this cocktail two parts of wrong people (from the friend that disappoints you and you wonder if it’s all your fault, to the boyfriend who exhausts you and you wonder if it’s all his mother’s fault, to various relapses), a part of philosophy and psycology studies (they help some, but also confuse you, with different reasoning methods and symptomes you find in yourself), a touch of hyper-responsibility (everything and anything that happens to me is due to me and I must bear its consequences, while being inflexibly honest with myself), ice cubes, shake well and dress with a slice of long teenagehood and simple growth process (we all go through it, you can find it in the fresh groceries section).
It’s not shocking nor traumatic, it’s normal, I think it happened to a lot of people. But I felt like I was the only looser
The rebirth, because rebirth it felt to me, started with the erasmus. I will never thank Montpellier enough. There I had the chance to be a whole new me, the me I wanted to be. Then I’ve found a couple of websites (Gala Darling and Charade, that were mostly self help blogs, before they turned out pink fashion blogs) that made me think I could actually do something helpful about myself (instead of just overthinking why I was so miserable, without going anywhere).
To sum up, what helped me was:
– self help, through blogs and books (mostly: Your erroneous zones, The book of the autogenic training, The way of the artist, Women who run with the wolves and Goddesses in every woman, I’ll write more on this subject, a sort of Euforilla’s guide out of shyness… a shorter title would be nice but I’ll see what I can do)
– sharing, through my blog but mostly thanks to a group of friends where I could say out loud what my fear were and have support (sometimes it was a therapeutical “get off!” some others it was pure cheerleading :D)
So here’s the deal.
This past year I’ve engaged pretty well with my blog, my creativity, my Etsy shop. And in touch with Sa.
I’ve witnessed the making of an album. The first rehearsals, the first versions of the songs (sometimes just hummed roughly in a recorder), many other meet ups and rehearsals, studio recordings, the endless work of mixing and mastering (I’ve learned by heart all the track without hearing them from start to finish, and at their Release Party… I sang along ALL of them! u_u).
And then there are my posts: drafts, cuts, editings, checks, translations, search for infos and images.
Fimo sculptures, a first shaping of the thing, then digging, modeling, adding or taking, wait, cook, paint, polish. Sew clothes starting from an idea, make it possible, cut, fit, or jewels, prepare everything, making do with the tools I have. Bake sweets, measure well, close the oven and hope everything goes right because you’ve done all you could to make it all perfect.
I’ve learned how to wait, I’ve learned that everything takes its time, that there are a lot of different steps, and layers, an phases to make something. That if something is not so pretty at the beginning or while still “in the works” it doesn’t matter, you can’t judge a draft, you have to wait for the finished piece… I’ve learned the concentration and the abstraction of when you’re creating something, a trance where you don’t know anymore where you are or what time it is. I’ve learned that at some point you just have to say stop, enough, I’m done… because otherwise you could go on an entire life to file things down, adjusting a little… Also because the more you do the more you learn and therefore there are old things that now you could make better… ok… but if you didn’t go through those old things, they wouldn’t have been your tools to the skills you have now.
You have to go through a lot of “ugly stuff” to make pretty ones.
I know that once I wrote against those who always say “focus on what you’re doing to avoid anxiety and shyness”. I wrote something like “But it IS what I’m doing that makes me nervous!”
Yes and no, I changed my mind… You can feel anxious if you’re to read in public, that’s true, but I did it and stepped out of it alive. More! I liked it!
I do not have a magical recipe, but I’ve realised that some years ago I would have focused on “I’m reading in public” therefore I would have been focused on how the “public” would react, on ho I would have looked from the outside. This time I focused on the “reading” part, on the action of it, on doing it. I focused on talking slowly, with the right breathing pauses, pronouncing well, not stumbling on my own tongue. And I knew I practiced at home, so I had that little of self confidence that practice gives you, and this is never a bad thing 😉 (Can you recall what it was like to answer questions in school when you knew you had studied and when you knew you didn’t? Exaclty!)
I focused on what I was doing, not on what I thought I should do. The distinction is realy thin, but very important!
That is my “recipe”.
I don’t know if I’m “healed” for good, but I feel so so so much better than before. I’m incredibly happy and proud that I’ve made this myself (ok, I had a ot of support and inspiration from other, but if I didn’t want this on my own there was nothing they could do to force me), I don’t say I won’t slip back in to some shyness-episodes. But knowing that I had this breakthrough, which feels like I’ve lived three lives in one year, that so many things have changed, it sets a good precedent… something I must not forget!