Have you ever felt like you didn’t know what you were doing, only that you were loving it?
That’s the best rendition I can come up with about how I’m feeling right now. What a wonderful problem to have, let me tell you.
Just this afternoon, I was with a few amazing women educating young people about sexuality, in the midst of a culture not really ready for it. I followed and observed a couple of them live, so I could get a hang on their process a few weeks ago. It was so inspiring to witness them change young minds.
My function in their meeting was to take notes on whatever my head was coming up with, looking for things that may be improved towards their big goals, like helping those young people to feel more comfortable about their bodies and saying no, or avoiding undesired pregnancies or STDs.
Today, I came back and listened carefully to what they were struggling with in their practice, what was making their work harder, what kind of things they were struggling to get through.
And was amazed, as often, about how the ideas I jotted down, leads for their future intervention, was aligned with their concerns and struggles. It felt like my superpowers were a perfect fit for the task at hand, such a joyful and satisfying sensation.
Sure, sometimes, I had to face some defensiveness about what they were afraid I did miss or thought about them. That’s so normal. Change is hard, and it’s easy in such setting to raise stress.
I’m also lacking practice : I have been in private practice, personally isolated and in introverted mode for a long time, learning, reflecting, getting stronger.
I needed that time out from the world and far away from Frenchness to figure out things personally. I also can feel that I need to get knee deep back into the world to further my work.
That means it’s going to get more and more icky. Uncomfortable as fuck. Scary. I’m going to mess it up, over and over. And right now, what it means is that I have no freaking idea of what I’m doing.
That meeting went quite well, most of them seemed very happy about our talk. Some even looked energized and inspired. They all had some actionable steps to put forward right away. And the promise I would look into my things, with their lens, so we can do even more good work together.
I had SO much fun, and joy, and badass meaningfulness out of this. This is definitely what I want to do with my job right now. So much so, that it’s not even paid, and I don’t care. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to do it and feel freer and less self-conscious to do it while volunteering.
But here’s the icky part : I have no idea what I actually did there. When I try to put words on it, nothing really comes up clear and cut. I know I infused some connection, inclusivity, humanity, meaning in there. But was I supervising? Coaching? Consulting?
No idea. I’m right now looking at my screen and shrugging my shoulders.
This is very scary to me. Like many of us, culture taught me I have to put my self in a box with a word labeled on it. To make it easier for people to get what I’m doing and feel more in control.
And it’s driving me crazy. It always has been. I’ve never really worked as I was taught to, and private practice allowed even more of this freedom, so much so that I’m not ready at all to lose this incredibly liberating feeling for the sake of comfort in describing what I’m doing.
BUT it also has stopped me from digging even deeper, feeling like I'm not legitimate enough to put my work forward, because I can't put words on it.
Until this year and my new awesome coaches came into the picture. Making those choices to work with them were turning points, I knew it coming in. I knew it would unleash some kind of hell of wonderful discomfort.
Yeah I know, strange string of words put together. Well, probably not so much if you know my work.
Annie Schuessler and Tiffany Han are my mentors of the year and two of the best things that happened in my career.
Because let’s be honest : self-made doesn’t exist. We need people in our corner. Teachers, mentors, cheerleaders, healers, witnesses : a whole tribe.
Annie is very keen on autonomy and letting us figuring our things with incredible benevolence and kindness, while giving us strong containers to experiment with. Tiffany doesn’t really have as much of a container for us to follow but values, and is more here to explore with us in the nitty gritty parts of those experiments, guiding us in a more hands-on way.
They remind me of my favorite combo of art teachers : I have a team of online incredibly focused teachers, showing me all kinds technical things, going very much into depth and teaching me how to master my sh*t with precision.
And then another team of passionate mentors teaching me how to loosen up, have fun and being more expressive in my art.
I go from one to the other and find very different but complementary things.
It’s wonderful and so enriching, and my art is both really really loose and expressive, while being based on solid skills, both allowing me to express my fullest self.
They speak to all the parts of my artistic soul.
I take the technical and the structure it’s offering me, and then have fun with it and finding freedom in it.
Figuring out who I am as an artist.
Right now, with Annie and Tiffany, I’m figuring out who I am as a... helper? Warrioring helper? Let’s say this for now. We’ll see what happens.
And in the mean time, to find some safety in all this scary fogginess and the consequent stress that goes with it, I play, paint everyday, doing things I’m having tons of fun with.
Play is always a good option to let some steam out and help the focus and productivity indirectly. And of course, keep learning on the side, writing to figure out more of all this. Both always brought me so much joy.
Follow the joy to your favourite life : she always knows best.