School orientation. I was all over it!
I could take or leave the welcome speech and challenge to students and parents for the year. I was the overachiever, so I would work hard to make the grade no matter what charge was given. I wanted to access the hallways! My desire was to alleviate the uncomfortable feeling of the unknown.
Schedule in hand, I would navigate each classroom, locate all the restrooms and find my locker. I would consider the paths I would take to get to each class on time.
Here I am all these years later and the unknown is still uncomfortable to me. Oddly enough it isn’t the unknown of “What does the distant future hold?”. It’s the everyday living kind of stuff. It’s the “I want to know the lay of the land” kind of thing.
That said, even though I still have the same feelings, I have learned to push against the tension.
I have allowed the butterflies to flutter.
I get that my brain is firing neurons to my stomach as a fight or flight reaction that happens when there is a threat to survival. My body might think there is a wild beast of some sort chasing me, but I can tell my mind that actually isn’t the case and that no one has died due to a little fluttering.
I could also beat myself up over the issues I have with the “unknown”, but how will that ever serve me in a beneficial way?
Quite simply, it won’t.
Here is the kicker! I have these same feelings even if I WANT to do the thing that stresses me.
So, what do I do? I do them anyway.
Last year, I decided to go to California for some advanced life coach training.
These were my stress points and “unknowns”:
-I am not a fan of flying (especially in this high security world we now live in).
-I am not a fan of traveling alone.
-I had never been to the city I was flying into.
-I would be picking up a rental car. (Offsite of the airport, which I discovered upon arrival.)
-I would be driving to a city I had never been to before and staying in an area I didn’t know.
-I would be with people I had never met before. (I am an introvert, or maybe an “it’s situational” ambivert.)
You know what?
I did it! The training was incredible and I met a lot of amazing people.
My return trip included the airlines having a nationwide computer system failure and 3 days trying to get home. Talk about a suitcase full of unknowns!!
Butterflies, we’ve got this!
But you know what I gained?
I made a new friend and travel buddy. (Turns out she lived 3 miles from me and was trying to get home, too.)
There are some good people in Phoenix (friends of a friend) who are willing to pick you (and your new buddy) up in the middle of the night, offer their home as a place to crash, feed you, give you an extra toothbrush and take you back to the airport when you need to go.
I married a great guy who was happy to pay a pretty big chunk of money to help me get home on another airline. He was also willing to take my new friend home from the airport when we FINALLY arrived.
Let’s not forget the value in learning you can actually wear the same clothes for 3 days. (I am still trying to figure out how my suitcase could make it back to St. Louis, but they couldn’t get me home.)
I find it curious that so often there is a feeling of overwhelm that proceeds my “jump off the cliff” and the question “What in the world was I thinking?” occupies my mind. This usually comes a night or two before the big leap. The morning sheds a little light on my weary, frightened heart, however and I am able to remind the butterflies that we will all be just fine.
Have I stopped pushing into the unknown just because it scares the crud out of me?
No, I haven’t!
Just a week and a half ago I did it again. I was invited to be part of the worship team with a church we started attending less than a year ago. This church has multiple campuses and I was scheduled on a campus other than the one I attended.
Okay, here is the “unknown” list:
-Keyboard I have never played
-First time using in-ear set
-First time playing to click tracks
-Playing with people I have never met before
-Draining schedule I was unaccustomed to, which included a long rehearsal on Saturday, a break, then into 2 services
-Back early on Sunday for run through and 2 more services
Some of that is musician stuff, but you get the idea, right?
Talk about butterflies!
Is there something that sends you to that fight or flight response? Do you find yourself on the flight path?
Or do you simply greet the butterflies, and tell them to either come along or flutter somewhere else?
How do you want to respond?
I am going to Nashville this week. The butterflies are coming with me. We have plenty of “unknowns” to handle together.