It is a catalyst of panic, anxiety, PTSD, and phobias, sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and more.
It is overwhelming, paralyzing, and limiting.
It is FEAR.
Fear of the unknown or, xenophobia, keeps us from doing anything that may be out of the zone of comfort we all love and nestle into. Xenophobia holds us back from the great treasures we may have discovered if we had only taken that first step, no matter how uncomfortable.
I recently applied at my church to be the praise and worship minister. This was an anxiety inducing action for me, even though I have been on the stage hundreds of times playing keys or singing. This action was outside of my comfort zone.
Educators are facing fears right now during this uncharted time in history. We are doing things that are uncomfortable and possibly out of our level of expertise. Lessons are being created for new platforms. The platforms themselves are new to many of us. On top of all of the logistics of teaching, we are worried about our students. There are many unknowns about them as well. Are they regressing? Do they have what they need physically and emotionally? How can I be the teacher they need right now? How long can this last? If we go back to school on time, what happens then?
So many questions, with so many unknown answers.
Being Wrong or Criticized
Fear is not always a manifestation from something tangible, such as my unreasonable fear of spiders, but it can be materialized from our inner self. What if I am wrong? What is the worst that can happen?
My fear of being the praise minister is not about my ability to play keys or sing well, but from the thought that others may see me mess up. If I do, then others will be critical of my efforts. I decided during the sermon yesterday that I would seek criticism as a way to grow myself. If others don’t like the way I lead, then I will work hard to be better at it. I create criticism in my head before it even happens and often cause my own anxiety. My church congregation has never told me I failed, even when I completely lost my place one time, stopped playing, and started laughing. They just laughed with me, not at me.
Educators right now are doing the best they can given the current circumstances and limited resources. We are working hard to make sure that next year will be successful, no matter what that looks like. Teachers are seeing criticism on Facebook and other media outlets as well as hearing it from community members. We must encourage, praise, and lift each other, because no one else knows what it is like to be an educator right now.
Realizing and embracing fears leads to change. Remember that I said I had an unreasonable fear of spiders? Last summer a little jumping spider was in our bay window; I noticed that there were fly remains in the window also. I decided that since the spider was earning her keep, I would let her stay. Then, she had babies. Now I had a momma spider and at least 50 babies crawling all over my window and house plants. For some reason I began to check on them every day. I even gave the water in a soda bottle lid and my boys gave the momma a name. Guess what, I have two little spiders in my window this year, Hank and Tom; I will not be checking the gender to see that the names match.
Why do we fear change? Change can be good if you look for the good in it. We fear change because it is uncomfortable. I had to make myself uncomfortable by letting the spiders live in my house where I knew at any moment they could crawl into my bedroom and kill me in my sleep. I might be a little dramatic on this point, but you get the gist.
Overcoming Fear of Change