by Aiano Nakagawa
A common obstacle many artists find themselves facing is fear. Fear has a way of showing up throughout the entire art making process. As you begin your process, you might be familiar with the voice that stops you by to telling you your idea isn’t interesting, nobody will be receptive to it, and you're just a phony. If you make it past the beginning, it reappears after you’ve started and you're taking the first look at your work-in-progress. It is back to tell you that you could do better and maybe you should just quit while you’re ahead.
If you’re able to combat this voice throughout the process and make it to the end (or your deadline, because I know nothing I show is ever “done”), it will be back for your last rehearsal, as you set up your display, or as you make the final touches on your work. It will gently (and sometimes not so gently) let you know you’re a piece of shit and that nothing you do will ever amount to anything.
The sole objective of this voice is to stop you from expressing, making, and creating. It appears at your most vulnerable moments ready to extinguish your creative fire. So how can we deal with this voice and continue to create?
First, begin to recognize the voice. When you hear it, check in with yourself… ask yourself, "is this a constructive voice, or a destructive voice?" Once you’ve recognized it, name it. Once you’ve named it, tell it to shut the fuck up and get the fuck out, because you don't have time for this shit and you've got some bad-ass art to create.
A little over a year ago I made a clear intention to practice bravery in my day-to-day life. I made a point to speak out, stand up, and push forward, even when I was terrified. When I started, I, like many people, believed that fear and bravery were opposites of each other, even contradictory, but what I learned is that bravery and fear actually wear very similar outfits.
Fear and bravery both start with shaking hands, sweaty palms, heavy breathing, and a mind that won’t stop racing. It is in this moment that you make a choice between fear and bravery. In many instances, giving into fear will actually calm you down. Giving into fear will always be less scary than choosing to be brave, because when you choose to be brave, you are choosing to face your fear.
Fear will talk you out of moving forward and pushing yourself through. Fear will tell you to just do it next time, because you’re too busy now. It will tell you just give up, because what’s the point? Once you choose to give into fear, fear will have won and courage will be buried before it even had a chance to surface.
In this moment when your heart is pounding you have the chance to be brave. Being brave will not necessarily calm you down or even feel good for that matter. Choosing bravery will make you shake a little harder and sweat a little more… but being brave is always worth it.
When you choose bravery, you are making a conscious choice to move past a boundary you have (intentionally or unintentionally) set for yourself. When you choose bravery, you begin to break the cycle.
Think about it like this, fear is a giant wave and courage is your surfboard. As you get caught up in the swell, the wave begins to grow and you only have a quick moment to decide your next move. In this moment you have one of two choices, 1. give in and get pulled under, or 2. jump on your surfboard and ride it out. This decision is made in a split second, but dramatically impacts what unfolds next. So yeah, sometimes it’s easier to give in and go under, but if, in the wake of this growing wave, you take the extra effort to mount your board, find your footing, and find your flow regardless of what might happen, you become the one in control and are able to ride the wave until the water becomes still again.
Riding this wave and breaking your boundaries will give you a sense of freedom and empowerment that fear will never be able to provide. When you chose bravery you are choosing not only to acknowledge your fear but also acknowledge your power. Once you begin to recognize when fear and bravery are fighting for your attention, you will be able to recognize bravery as the one who will move you forward and lead you closer to yourself.
Be honest to yourself about what you want: out of life, to eat, to feel, to do in this world. Honor whatever it is, without judgment. Give yourself whatever it is you need. This is a process that takes time. It is the process of getting to know yourself, getting to know your body – without judgments or assumptions – learning to let all the parts of you be what they are.
Face them, hear them, know them, and find peace in letting them be.
Many of us work against ourselves – denying us pleasure, fulfillment, and fullness. This is no way to find peace. We are working for peace within our bodies and ourselves to reconnect us to our power center. We are learning how to listen to ourselves and honor our needs and desires.
Be kind, be gentle, be love, be open.
Enjoy your body.