There have been many times in my life that I have felt like I was involved in something that I was not capable of handling. Whether it has been teaching, becoming a parent, playing live music, or doing a live radio broadcast, there are inevitably going to moments that I have no clue how I am going to make it through the situation I find myself in.
Thankfully, I have some friends who know a thing or two about taking risks, and trying new things, and they have encouraged me to recognize that it is not always a bad thing to feel fear when you are doing what you love. Following our hearts can seem like a risky endeavor in our world. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that being in control is the ultimate goal, and following our heart often means letting go of control.
Sometimes the dreams that we hold in our hearts require us to expand our ideas about who we are and what we are capable of. We might not realize how much we can accomplish until we find ourselves involved in something that takes us beyond our current ideas. For example, there was a time when the middle school lunch group was lucky to attract five students. It was an intimate setting, all of us seated around a small table, with a neatly organized agenda for each meeting. The challenge for me was encouraging other students to join us.
Recently that has changed in a big way. While it did not happen overnight, there are now days when up to fifty students, sixth through eighth grade, come together in the meeting room to play games, laugh, and even sing together. This is fantastic for my program, and for the students who are able to gather and make new friends. The group is a place for creating relationships and support networks that are invaluable as our students navigate the sometimes bumpy seas of middle school. The challenging part for me has been rethinking my role in the group, and discovering ways to effectively organize and direct the group.
The good news is that, after some anxious moments and careful reflection, everything is moving along smoothly. The students are happy, and albeit a little loud, the group has been going along without a hitch. The key was relaxing my own expectations and beliefs about what was possible and opening up to a greater vision. In my case, it was sink or swim, because the group had expanded and it was up to me to learn how to expand with it.
Following our hearts is a bit like walking a tightrope. Sometimes we have to take one step at a time, with our eyes resolutely focused on the goal that we are moving toward. If we waste time looking back, or looking down at what might happen if we fall, we are likely to have a temporary feeling of overwhelm. We might question what we were thinking by embarking on the task in the first place. All of this is normal.
It is helpful to remember that there are safety nets to catch us, if we are willing to use them. These include friends who will encourage us, inspiring books, and practices such as prayer and meditation. Even if we fall, and we will, we can dust ourselves off and climb back up the ladder to try again. This has been repeated throughout the ages by those who have gone on to achieve great things by following their heart.
So take inventory of the adventures you are currently on. If you are feeling like you are in over your head, take a breath. When we take the time to refresh our mind, we naturally float to the surface and see things more clearly. By lightening up our thinking we remember why we have chosen to do the things we are doing. We see the bigger picture, and we gain inspiration for the road ahead. In fact, if you are feeling overwhelmed by whatever you are doing at the moment, it is okay to do a little happy dance. There is a good chance that those feelings are indicating that you are heading in the right direction.
Photo (Top): Don’t be afraid to get in over your head. The benefits of following your heart are worth it. Jeansley Jean Baptiste, 6th grader at Culver City Middle School, is a great leader, and an asset to our ever-expanding lunch group.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, to find out more go to www.DarrellandEd.com.