Do you remember being in school and sitting the night before a big assignment was due staring at a blank sheet of paper, sweating bullets over the thought that you’d never find the inspiration necessary to complete that essay on the mating habits of Chilean mole rats?! The longer you looked at the pale blue lines of that empty page the greater your fears became.
Or maybe you’ve experienced this type of thing more recently. Maybe you’ve sat by the glaring light of a computer screen at 3 am trying to conjure up the magic you know you possess to create that dazzling presentation or that winning proposal.
Or perhaps you are like me; about to embark on a really cool new journey writing for an amazing friend and her latest business venture and you can’t even collect your thoughts over the sound of your beating heart. See fear does that – it makes your heart beat fast! So here I sit wondering what the hell I have agreed to, how in Hades I am going to write something worth reading and how long my friend will despise me if I fail!
Why am I so afraid? It’s not like I don’t have a lot to say! In fact, if you’ve met me you probably have wondered at some point if I ever shut up. It’s not like I don’t have ideas – I routinely wake up at 3:24 am with some new plan for my family, business or community. And it’s not that I don’t believe in my skills – I am just stubborn enough that there’s almost no challenge I won’t accept. And yet I am terrified right now…and fear has somehow siphoned the creative juices from my very soul.
Fear is a funny thing and not in a funny “haw haw” kind of way. It’s funny in a back-alley-stabbing-by-a-badly-made-up-clown sort of way. And it never makes any logical sense. Fear strips us of our confidence by making it impossible to be rational about the matter at hand.
So here I sit. Staring at the screen, watching the cursor blink and I am imagining a myriad of horrific outcomes from this foray into the field of online writing. I imagine my friend firing me after my debut diatribe or other friends mocking my chosen words behind my back. I imagine making the Top 10 of some online satire site or my Mother calling to say a friend read my article and the outcome of that conversation ending in a lecture on getting my ass back to church!
And yet I KNOW I have the skills and talents to do this. It’s not that I truly doubt my ability. What I fear is the baring of my soul, the sharing of the gift and it being rejected. Jesus Christ admonished his disciples to never “cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Matthew 7:6 (**note to my Mom – see, I can still quote the Bible – no church-returning-lecture needed!)
I have lots of pearls inside me. I have pearls of generosity, and kindness. I have pearls of self-awareness and pearls of intelligence. I have pearls of determination and pearls of minor genius. I have some pearls that make me funny as f*ck – because let me tell you, I can make people laugh – hell I make myself laugh all the bloody time!
It’s hard to cast our pearls out there…because there only needs to be one swine in the crowd. It’s hard to let people in to see the REAL us, because it only takes one to start a stampede – and frankly, rending hurts! It’s hard to take off the masks of self-preservation and really admit who we are. Social media has allowed us to create a persona of whatever we choose. We can project to the world only the niceties and pleasantries of our parenting. We only share when our husbands bring home flowers, not when they forget our anniversary and their idea of redemption is taking you on a trip through the drug store to buy a new cell phone case – for themselves, but I digress…
This has always been the core of my creative block – whether it be in the grade school assignment about the wigwam of the Native Americans or that power point presentation showing the growth in my regional territory over the last 6 months. I am afraid that the best inside of me disappoints. That my pearls aren’t what you wanted or expected or that my pearls aren’t as pretty as Gerri-Lou’s and so John gives that kindergartener-coveted marriage proposal to her instead of me. I am afraid that my ideas seem strange or my talents fail to “wow” you.
What if my best pearl is only average by the light of day…
What if this article gets posted and it falls flat? What if no one presses that “like” button or comments with flowering language about how they have been waiting their entire lives to see such amazing, inspiring words? What if I am never contacted by Oprah to interview for O Magazine because she discovered me while sipping a chai latte at a 5-star spa in the desserts of Morocco? Will I be ok if I share a part of me with you and you simply walk away from reading this unchanged?
In school there was a grading system. My parents were given a written record of my success and my failings. In the work force my compensation and my reputation itself raises and falls on my ability to make you like what you see. But what my friend is asking from me here seems different altogether. It’s seems so much more personal, so raw and makes me feel so vulnerable…
I have had a lot of swine-trampling injuries in my lifetime…and I have lost a lot of pearls to irresponsibly casting them without truly understanding the consequences. I have some pig-shaped injuries on my heart, but I have learned something amazing every time. The pork scars are worth the pearl casting…
There is something liberating about taking what is inside of you and flinging it out for others to see. It’s terrifyingly tantalizing. It’s gorily gorgeous. And the only pearls I have ever regretted are the ones I have never tossed. I have stood on a rickety rope bridge while my friends playfully plunged into the waters below and never dared to take that leap. I have kept my feelings to myself. I didn’t mail a card of encouragement or send a note of thanks. For whatever reason I allowed my fears to stop me from both big and small “attempts”. But looking back, I only regret the things I never had the courage to do and not the things I did that turned out badly.
Oh, I have licked my painful wounds for a time, but the scars of the pig-stampede have always brought me something worth having. Whether it be a closer friendship or a clearer understanding of who truly is my friend. Maybe it was a broken heart that paved the way for an even greater love. Fear has always robbed me of things that courage never has.
I have learned that a C on my report about wigwams truly wasn’t the end of the world. I have learned that no one brands your forehead for a mathematical mistake in your forecast numbers to the board of directors – even if it did result in months of teasing at the water cooler. And I have learned that most of my fears are ridiculous little liars that want to rob me of the joy of dancing, the pleasure of attempting and the glory of (however infrequently it happens) succeeding.
There are pigs in every aspect of our lives. There’s porky-pricks at work, at school, in our families, at the grocery store…sometimes there’s a pig or two on that committee of assholes in our own heads, and he’s grunting madly for you to stop before you get your white dress dirty. But I am going to keep chucking out my pearls, because I’ve got a lot of pearls to share. You might like some and you might hate some, but that’s ok because there’s a lot of me worth sharing and the taste of bacon will always help me to mend my broken heart!