... and this is a long journal.
I find it amazing when a word comes up multiple times in one day from different people but referring to similar things. As what feels like usual, that wave of self doubt yesterday was followed by crippling uncertainty that I was a 'bad person', and then even more fears, and so on and so forth until I actually had a panic attack *while sedated with a sleeping pill* that lasted for 9 hours. I was by myself and had no way to get up, call for help (my phone is dead) or anything. So I just curled up in a ball and clung to Zeus and hopped my heart didn't explode. It was nine hours of pure hell and probably the worst I've felt in a long, long time.
So I called my therapist this morning.
He made some interesting commentary to me, and I have an appointment for next week before I leave with Sarah on our flight. But one of the things he talked about was the stability of my public platform, the importance of knowing *what* I stand for and think and wish to express. This is a term that I just saw come up on no fewer then three other friend's feeds and it's one I need to think about. But our entire conversation revolved around how terribly important it is for me to be *confident* in every aspect of my life.
See... I get anxious when people say things like "You're too outspoken". "You are too opinionated." "You're a know it all." and so on. The fact is? I don't get told that very often at all, in fact only a very small handful of people have said that about me within the past.. year or so? But all it takes is one person for it to sink in and literally demolish my confidence. It's the old "I had a rough childhood" thing. Back in school, I *was* the know it all. There is a reason why I graduated two years early, and it was ignoring people who did the childish 'nya nya nya' voice and said "Jessica's a know it all" every time I raised my hand with the answer. Once I had a girl pin me down and beat the *crap* out of me in front of half the school, because I voiced an opinion and refused to back down on it. (the opinion was that we shouldn't draw rude pictures of our substitute and post them up on the board before she got there).
So every time anyone makes a cutting comment about me referring to those types of things, I have horrible flashbacks of the kind of nasty shit that happened when I was little, and I think 'I thought we all outgrew this.. you mean this is acceptable in grown ups too?" I had a goal back then though, I knew that if I could get the teacher's supporting me that I *was above the highschool level of teaching*.. they'd help me get out. And they did. But what do I do to get out and away from that type of negativity and nastiness as an adult? I can't just.. 'swap schools'. Do I change who I am then? But I don't *want* to be anyone other then who I am. Am I a bad person?
When I went to college, the people who had done the homework, and who asked intelligent questions? Those were the ones who got even MORE answers, and who got more out of the teachers then just 'do page 20 of chapter ten.' They got knowledge, they got information.. and I was blessed with a father and step mother who let me just explore and take *whatever the hell classes I felt like taking*. Do you know how awesome that is? To just... learn about whatever you want to? To let your brain do what it wants? And it did so many great things for me. I was confident back then. When a teacher said 'you are not here to learn art, you are here to earn a grade'? I stood up and walked out. Right to the dean in fact. I was put in a new life drawing class with a crazy redheaded lady who would 'treat' us with unique models every single class period and who cherished us all, I learned some much from her. But I wouldn't have had the chance to take her class if I hadn't stood up for my opinions and beliefs, that I was there to learn art.. the grade came second. I was called that 'uppity bitch' for it though, by the students I'd left behind. It devastated me, till I realized.. they could have walked with me. They could have gone with me and maybe that would have made a difference with that teacher, instead of him continuing to teach that art is just a grade.
Knowledge is power, no it really is. And surrounding yourselves with knowledgeable people actually expands your pool of information you can draw upon. It's been proven in some study somewhere that we as humans use each other for shared information and knowledge. One of the things that happens a lot in my life, is that Sarah and I can come up with an idea and make a working prototype usually within the first walkthrough of our ideas. It's pretty rare that we have failures (though it's common for us to swap materials after the prototype is made for something that works better). It's something that makes us really comfortable working together, because we can brainstorm as a pair and use each other's combined knowledge to create something better then what we would have come up with on our own. But my therapist pointed out that every time we brainstorm, we do it safely... with the knowledge that we each have valuable information that the other one doesn't have and we offer it to one another with open arms. We're both completely confident in the areas that we know about, and so we just... don't worry and let the information flow. Does Sarah know more about costuming? YES! In fact I count on her knowing that since I know dick all about sewing and am as likely to sew holding a needle on the wrong end, then be able to make anything at all. Do I know more about framing? Yes! In fact she counts on that because then it's a skillset she doesn't have to fully master to add to her knowledge in order to use effectively, because I'm pretty sure her brain is going to explode if she adds one more hobby to her skillsets.
What does all this mean? This long, rambling, babble? It means... the only time I am safe and happy is when I am sitting with a colleague, discussing art with them and laying it out on the table. When I am in a panel at a convention, discussing art with the attendees and just.. giving them the information I have learned in 30+ years of schooling, arting, and just driving for more and new things. When I am watching tv with loved ones and cracking jokes about the characters and flinging my opinion at the screen... and knowing they are either going to laugh and agree? Or they will go 'oh come on jess, that's a load of crock. You know that's really a good guy at heart' etc. I can go on and on with examples, but the important thing here is that I am confident and safe and *cherished* for who I am.
In each of those scenarios, I am completely confident in where I am, what I think, and what I know. It doesn't matter if I'm opinionated, opinions are only offputting when they offend others. Opinions *are* going to offend someone at some point in time, so 'get over it' is really the answer here. I am also a woman, and if you follow the feminist movement you'll realize that opinionated/confident women are often portrayed negatively in the media, by their peers, and so on. Rather then curl up and whimper "But.. I'm nice.. I'll give you the shirt off of my back I swear. Just like me?" I need to embrace the fact that I am what I am, I have the knowledge and opinions I have... and just be confident that I actually know who I am. Knowing who I am was never the problem. People hating me for it was.
This is going to take years to build up the confidence to weather against people who dislike me purely for having an opinion, or for having knowledge they don't have, or having been educated in general. It feels like the more people try to rub my nose in the dirt, the higher I have to lift it, and at some point I may have to make the sacrifice that I am going to be a snooty bitch, because I don't like the smell of dirt. Maybe that's okay.. I'm pretty short, and the people I admire and love are pretty tall. I need to be looking up anyway.
Sorry to just ramble, this was pretty long. I'm probably going to have some big ups and downs coming.