The Difference Between Hiding And Going Within
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” -Audre Lorde
When I began school at five years old, I was bullied. I refused to speak with anyone except the teacher and one girlfriend who stood up for me. Because a few kids picked on me, I began to tell myself that all the other kids were judging me as well. When I’d hear laughter, I’d worry. What if they were laughing at me?
Granted, some were. I was a chunky red-haired kid who dressed oddly (my parents gave me creative freedom) in sparkly shoes and loud prints, and I had a wild imagination. Before I was bullied, I liked to tell outlandish stories to anyone who’d listen. My counterparts in Kindergarten were confused by my narratives, and I was confused as to why I didn’t fit in.
There are many ways to respond to bullying. Some retaliate. Others use it as fuel. My way was to hide. My shoulders began to curl in, my head remained down in class, and I stopped speaking at school. All my creative energy went to assigning thoughts to the kids I saw. If someone looked a certain way, I’d tell myself that I knew they were thinking.
I was not psychic or intuitive. Rather, I was riddled with anxiety and a bit of paranoia that comes with being bullied. And the origin story of my anxiety isn’t as much about those bullies as it is about my reaction to them.
My anxiety persisted throughout my school years, and as soon as I was old enough, I learned to numb. It wasn’t until I was around nineteen that I realized something needed to change. This is when I began to read philosophy, meditate, study aikido and, ultimately, find yoga. Through all this searching, I learned the art of going within.
It’s funny how similar “going within” sounds to hiding. Going within and focusing on the self, however, is about examining our reactions and feelings with intentionality. It is also about remembering our strength. The fact is, when I would hide from other kids, I was exacerbating the stories in my head about what they were thinking. Now, when I have anxious thoughts about the what-ifs of life, I know to go within and examine the stories I’m telling myself. By doing so, I get in touch with something deeper, an objective truth that even if someone was talking about me, it wouldn’t affect me.
It’s funny because now anxiety, when it rises like a wave within me, reminds me to connect. I connect to my breath and my intention; herein, I gain perspective. I watch my anxiety with awe, and I’ve realized that by examining my own responses, I can better empathize and connect with others.
Rather than feeding stories, I now release them or, being the writer that I am, I turn them into outlandish fiction. Others may turn stories into paintings, great meals, or pure energy to burn in a long run or a sequence of kundalini yoga. I’ve learned what I knew as a young child. We should share our gifts, no matter how outlandish they may seem to others.
After all, when we breathe with the intention of an observer, and we own our stories, we are better equipped to respond to both negative and positive inputs without being swayed by them.
Jen teaches Creativity and Yoga Workshops online and in the Midwest. Connect with her at Yogiwrites.com
A short meditation on connectivity: https://youtu.be/dZsX6_iKAs0
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