The whole kerfuffle starts with a thought. I could illustrate my blog.
As soon as I think it, she shows up: the familiar, furious fluster-roar:
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
YOU’RE NO ILLUSTRATOR! YOU’VE NEVER EVEN TAKEN A DRAWING CLASS! YOU CAN’T DO THIS. YOU CAN’T JUST DECIDE TO DRAW THINGS AND SHOW PEOPLE. STOP INSTANTLY.
The wrath of Pointy Girl. She’s been around as long as I can remember and that girl has the tongue of a snake. She shrieks at me when I want to do something different. She snarls when I want to take a risk. And she always shows up whenever I think, I could create something.
When I make art, Pointy Girl goes nuts.
WHAT? YOU THINK YOU’RE AN ARTIST NOW? YOU ARE LUDICROUS.
Pointy Girl rants. I take a breath and draw. These days, she doesn’t throw me as she once did. When she pops in with her opinions on my skills and sanity, I know I’m stepping out of my comfort and onto my edge.
Pointy Girl yelled at me when I agreed to marry a man with two children. She was apoplectic when I started teaching holistic fitness classes. She went on a tirade when I started a blog and again when I submitted essays for publication. Her snit over my drawing is just the latest in a series of haranguings.
For years, Pointy Girl stopped me cold. She stopped me from risking and daring and speaking my mind. She stopped me from dancing. After a while, I wanted her gone. I started yelling back, telling her to shut up, go away. But while fighting back seemed like a good idea, it never worked. She always returned with a full head of fury.
As mean as she can be, I know Pointy Girl has my best interest at heart. She wants to protect me from embarrassment, failure, and judgement. So, instead of shouting her down, a wise teacher suggested I thank her and give her a new job.
Counter intuitive as it sounds, I told Pointy Girl that I appreciated what she’s been trying to do and that based on her well-practiced skills, she could be an excellent protector and strong holder of boundaries. She could help me discern the important risks to take, avoid distractions and get to the heart of things. I gave her a new name: Guiding Caring Force. I told her she could stop being pointy.
Mostly now, she’s happy. She’s cool with my shenanigans teaching in goofy pants in front of crowds of people. She’s okay with my writing and creative experiments. These days, she’s even okay with my drawing.
Every once in a while, though, she gets scared, forgets her new title and goes on a rampage like in the old days. And I get it. I know she’s doing her best. Oh girl, I tell her, it’s okay. I know you’re afraid. But remember, this is who I am.
Susan McCulley is a writer, artist, mindful movement educator and a Black Belt Nia Instructor who has been wearing funny pants and teaching people since 2000. Her essays have been published on elephant journal and Full Grown People. You can find her at www.susanmcculley.com.
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