Be Scene and not Herd

Week one at the SCA has been completed. The subject of anxiety had been on my cerebral back burner. Anyone who saw my sunken face and furrowed brows ten minutes before a submission was due, might have suggested I take a Xanax. But I’ve been reflecting on my first few days. It has not been a frightful or scary experience. I have been looking forward to coming in each day. Why then the fear?

Well, I have been outside my comfort zone. And I have been pushing myself to absorb new ideas techniques and develop new habits. All of this is a mental stretch but nothing to be scared of. There is of course the ever-present fear of failure. That however, is a projection of something that might happen. It doesn’t serve us to worry about the things that could go wrong. And if we are faced with a bad situation, then worry doesn’t help us move through it, only action will. Oh the joys of being a born worrier.

By the end of day three, I very nearly wrote a ‘Dear Marc’ letter.
“What am I doing here?”
“Are you sure about this?
“It’s not you, it’s me.”

I managed to ride out the dark night of the soul. And I kept applying my focus to enjoying and being fully present in the moment.

Being free to make mistakes, not being concerned with that others think, being fascinated by everyone and everything around you and being encouraged to explore your world, these are some of the states most associated with childhood. I’ve found it remarkable and challenging in equal measure, how much my first week has felt like a childlike state. This has been bringing up a lot of unprocessed emotions lurking in my subconscious. So rather than thinking about fear, I have been mulling on trauma.

Dr Gabor Maté, is a physician whose writings I follow. He researches trauma and says;
“Trauma shows up as a disconnect from the self. That’s what trauma is. And for that you don’t need tsunamis, or war or abuse…You can just have parents (or caregivers) who just couldn’t see you. Because they couldn’t see themselves because they’ve been traumatised.”

Then something happened that gave me fresh perspective. Marc addressed the school via video link from his hospital room, when by rights he should have been on full bed rest.

The first thing I thought to myself was that we’d need watertight reasons and alibis to ever warrant a sick day if the gaffa is this hardcore.

I think he said “a commitment to give 100% when able to.” Seems like a fair mutual expectation when the standard we have of ourselves is to be the best.

It re-enforced to me just how unique a space the SCA is. Most people bemoan that their jobs make them ill. The Dean here sees his job as integral to his recovery.

And then I went back to picking the old trauma wound. If you never truly get to know yourself you will inevitably make decisions that are not congruent with who you are. Or worse you purposefully avoid looking into your pain and turn away from yourself. Mental health despite the media spotlight, is hard to gauge. We are often oblivious to our own issues, unless life or perhaps a course of therapy make us look into our wounds.

So when Transactional Analysis was mentioned in a class, I leaned in. It’s not within the scope of this SCAB for me to share the gory details but I did once plonk myself on the proverbial therapy couch. After having observed my patterns and behaviours that were skewed, I realised I needed to get my act together. Therapy was hard work and started the process of pulling apart years of miscommunication and misinterpreted messages. It also encouraged me to embrace my free child state more. I threw myself into a rudderless boatload of creative activity. Am-dram, campfire guitar songs, local radio, small enterprises, tour guiding, you name it I probably tried it. In large part, the process of following my passions and doing what I like doing, led me to the SCA.

There are some highly talented people here. Graduates from the finest universities, art students, graphic designers, musicians, professional musicians and wordsmiths. Without exception, smart people. The course is really clever too. The structure, exercises, masterclasses and the mentors, all shaking us up to stop thinking in old rigid ways and to re-awaken our creative potential.

So when the worries kick in, as they do, I just try and remember that Marc and the faculty here saw something in all of us. This space is designed for that special something, it is valued and developed. I’m grateful to be here and if the path that brought me here takes a turn because advertising and me aren’t meant to be, then that’s OK too.

I’m OK – You’re OK.

We’re in good hands.


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