I did something really insane the other day.  Insane in retrospect.  At the time, it was an “of course” sort of thing.  Of course I have to make this happen.  Of course I have to jump into the deep end.  Of course.  It was exciting.  Thrilling, really.  Rewarding just in the act of going for it and doing my very best. 

 Normally, if I had scheduled this thing (I don’t want give away too much, but there’s more of a point to this) or had more notice, I would have prepared.  And of course, the most notable and recognizable emotion that comes along with preparation and anticipation: nervousness.  I wasn’t nervous.  I was so amped.  I was excited.  But now.  Now is a different story.  I have reflexive nervousness.  Like I should have been nervous before, but because I didn’t have time, it’s coming up now, like a reflex.  It feels almost like an undertow.  The wave wasn’t so bad, but it’s aftermath is pulling at me…pulling at my mind, really, because that’s all I can do right now,  think about it. 

I am trying to make sense of my emotions in the wake of this experience.  And what I’ve come up with is that when I am waiting for something, when I am bathed in anticipation, I feel an overwhelming sense of fear, in my chest, like butterflies, but heavier.  I am fearful.  Fearful I won’t get it.  Fearful that I will.

For this thing, there is an element of getting “picked.”  So of course there’s the fear of not getting picked, which brings up all the previous hurts associated with not being picked.  There’s a fear of having to feel that hurt again.  We have this inherent desire to “belong.”  If we feel we don’t belong, we start to feel lost, and blame ourselves and others.  We make up stories and search for reasons that “explain” why we don’t belong.  Feeling separate leads to suffering.  The support of community is one of the true refuges (as opposed to false refuges like food, drugs, the tales we tell ourselves to make us feel better) in Buddhism.  We’ve all experienced moments in our lives where we haven’t belonged.  I certainly have.  Most notable and painful are moments when I thought I belonged and then ended up feeling like I didn’t.  It felt like I’d been cast out.  And, hate this word: rejected.  But luckily, I’ve experienced moments of belonging that are absolutely transcendent, with the lovely ladies of my book club, with life-long family friends, with new friends and with old friends.  These are moments when I feel I can just sit and be unguarded.  It helps to remember that I do belong to something.  There is evidence in my life of belonging.  There is no reason to believe I won’t, or don’t deserve, to “belong” to something (this thing), too.    

And conversely, there’s the fear of getting picked, of having to show up, of having to do the job.  One time I got the lead in a musical.  I won the role of Princess Winifred in Once Upon a Mattress.  I was kind of shocked that I got the gig.  I was like, wait…wait…um…no.  I was terrified to be the center of attention, to be on a stage in front of everyone.  Why had I even tried out?  I did it because I enjoyed belonging to that community of theater people.  I loved the friends I made during that time.  I felt like I belonged.  So I auditioned and kind of shockingly got the big part.  I remember my custom-made costumes and the care that went into sewing them.  I remember hating my body in them.  I remember reciting lines on stage and hearing my stilted delivery.  I didn’t have fun with it because I was so scared to be up there.  I muscled through it, but I never really gave myself over to the role.  I never felt that stage smile on the inside.  And ironically, the character has a song called “Shy” which is supposed to reveal how shy she’s actually isn’t. I wish I could have done it like this.  The good news was, the following year, after realizing I still wanted to be part of the productions but didn’t want to be front and center the whole time, I didn’t audition, but I was offered the part of Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof.  It was perfect.  It was one scene, one song, a drapey sheet-like frayed ghostly costume, white face paint, and I got to run down the aisle and up onto the stage as my grand entrance.  I found a way to belong and participate in a way that made me feel comfortable. 

So, I guess all this referencing is helping me recognize my fear and evidence ways in which I have dealt with it in the past. 

Earlier, I went into the “thing” with no fear.  I wasn’t even nervous.  I was so excited to be there.  So enthusiastic throughout the entire thing.  So grateful to everyone else who was there.  And so, so, so pumped on the way home afterward.  I was proud of myself for my get-up-and-go.  Perhaps all this residual fear is also a result of not feeling that “high” anymore.  Maybe those lifted emotions, if clung to too fiercely, are a false refuge.  The truth is I don’t need to get the thing to be complete, to belong, to be a success.  Do I want it?  Of course I want it.  Would I rock it out?  Of course I would rock it out.  I would rock it out like I rocked out Fruma Sarah!