Shine Your Light

I recently responded to a post on Facebook from someone close to me, who said they were considering changing a part of how they act because they were so tired of people judging them and putting them down. This is what I said, in part, in response to their post:

“Some people have nothing better to do than tear down others to make themselves feel better. Live YOUR life, not theirs. Smile if you want to smile. Wear what you want to wear. They’re trying to put out a light that scares the f*** out of them. You’ve worked your ass off to overcome things that have happened in your life, and that terrifies the people who aren’t brave enough to do the work. So they have to make you feel like you’re less than them…because the reality is, you’re far, far more. Ignore them as much as you can. Feel compassion for them. *They* are the ones with the problems.”

That can be a hard thing to learn. If you’re constantly bullied and insulted, whether it’s about your physical appearance or your personality or your clothes or whatever, it wears you down. Sometimes it does just seem easier to back down, because at least then maybe they’ll leave you alone.

But I’ve found through personal experience that a lot of times, what I said in that Facebook comment is true. People fear what they don’t understand, and get angry at what they fear. People who look down on themselves can’t understand how someone can choose not to be part of the crowd. They see someone strong, confident, and powerful, and sometimes that frightens them. Sometimes it infuriates them because they don’t believe they can be the same way.

I’ve been approached by people who bullied me in school, or stood by while others bullied me. They’ve told me they were jealous or envious of what they saw as my total lack of fear to be myself. They admired me, but didn’t want to admit it. They were intimidated by me.

I wish they hadn’t been. I’m not all that intimidating, and I would happily have been their friend. Instead, I hid my light under piles and piles of detritus, all the result of bullying and other things I experienced. I didn’t dare show that light at all, because obviously it was a bad thing to have.

Now I dare. Now I know that light is what makes me who I am, and helps me to help other people. I refuse to hide it anymore. The person whose post I commented on has been keeping their light very visible for a long while now, and I hope they don’t choose to start hiding it.

Listen to Yourself

In January 2016, in the wake of David Bowie’s death, I posted the following on Facebook (there was more to it, but this was the most important bit):

“We all need to be unafraid to live our dreams. All of us can at least try. You might not reach your goal, but if you never even try, you’ll never have the chance. Let go of the “can’t” and “shouldn’t” and fear. Start now. Dare to shake the world.”

I hand-copied that in calligraphy and taped it to the wall above my desk. It’s been there ever since.

And yet I haven’t really paid attention to it. I have dreams. River Flow Healing is one of them, though at the time I posted that, River Flow wasn’t even a glimmer of a thought. Singing is another. Continuing to write fiction and having a bigger audience.

I have a lot of dreams, and some of them, if I fulfill them, will shake the world in the sense of making a difference. Having an impact. That’s the main reason behind a lot of the things I do. I want to be out there to help others.

I’m really not helping anyone if I don’t listen to my own advice. Fear and “can’t” and “shouldn’t” have been constant companions for me. And that’s entirely on me. I’ve allowed those things to become my roadblocks, and it really needs to stop.

I might not get as far as I’d like with any of my dreams, but that doesn’t mean being so afraid of failing that I don’t even make the effort.

That post, when I put it on Facebook, started with me quoting the poem “Ode,” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. If you’ve ever seen the 1970s version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, you’re familiar with one line of that poem, quoted by Willy Wonka: “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” The first part of the poem ends with “We are the movers and shakers of the world forever, it seems.” (As best I can determine, the poem is not copyrighted. If anyone knows differently, please leave a comment.)

Whoever creates is a “mover and shaker of the world” if they aren’t afraid to be so. That’s where I’m falling flat: I’m afraid. It’s time to listen to myself….

FEAR!

For the past month, I’ve been going through a lot of changes. There are so many things about me that aren’t horrible, but aren’t helpful. Things I would love to change, because changing them would give me a better life.

The biggest one of those is fear. I’m afraid of almost everything. Today I’m leaving for the Rites of Spring Pagan festival in western Massachusetts, and I’m afraid I won’t get to know anyone there. I’m afraid I’ll feel silly like I did last year. I’m afraid my partner, who is also going, will ignore me the entire time.

Irrational fears. Though the fear of feeling silly isn’t so irrational. I actually did feel that way last year, but that was also tied to fear. I was afraid other people would think I was silly or stupid, so I just didn’t do anything. I didn’t participate in the rituals or the singing (I didn’t even know the songs, though everyone else there seemed to), and I didn’t really talk to many people. Which was unfortunate, because they’re nice people and would have accepted me if I’d been willing to be accepted.

I’m learning to let go of those fears a little more every day. Fear keeps you from truly living. You just exist day to day, doing the things you know are safe and won’t cause problems, and you don’t risk anything. But not risking means not trying, and not trying means you’re stuck where you are. Not necessarily the way someone wants to live, but sometimes fear seems stronger than you, and you don’t know how to fight.

I’m learning to fight. And I’m going to Rites of Spring despite the fear, and keeping an open mind (unlike last year, I admit) that it will be better this year, and that I won’t be as afraid.

Which reminds me… since I’ll be at Rites of Spring, there won’t be a blog post on Saturday. Next Wednesday, hopefully I’ll be able to tell you how Rites was!