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  • Writer's pictureKaren Caswell

What are you afraid of?

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

I realised something this past week – I am still afraid of something I thought I had let go of. I also remembered that I don’t particularly like feeling this way. So what am I afraid of? Rejection.

As someone who struggles with anxiety, a regular part of my thought patterns for most of my life have revolved around me questioning if I was good enough. Did I do enough? Did I do it right? What if I make a mistake? Do I deserve this? Am I worth it?

These thoughts often prevented me from voicing my opinions out of fear of judgement. I always allowed others to lead and dominate. And I always pushed my feelings way, way down as I felt that I wasn't allowed to let others know how I was feeling. I also always thought that no one was interested or really wanted to know about me. None of this was true, of course, but that didn’t stop me thinking that way. In short, I was afraid of being rejected.

However, after a severe bout of depression, I knew that it was vital for my mental health to find my voice and learn how to express myself. So I did. But, like learning any new skill, it took a while, with failings along the way. There was also some pushback as some people I interacted with adjusted to this new, vocal version of the passive person they were used to dealing with. After significant effort, I think I’m getting there – I know I’m definitely better than I used to be. But there are times when it is still hard, and I’m still very much a work in progress, but I know progress is certain.

The conundrum is, I am actually quite driven and ambitious. I spoke in my first blog post, about my pursuit of a promotional position and how it was making me unhappy. I’d taken a big leap, in terms of self-belief, and put myself out there. When I didn’t win a position, I listened to the feedback I was given and I worked to improve. I knew my areas of weakness, and I took action to develop these. But eventually, I’d had enough, and I chose to refocus my energy on my students. Which I have happily and whole-heartedly done. Nothing brings me more joy than connecting with my students, fostering their learning and supporting their growth as young humans.

I also love to share – the progress my students are making, the learning experiences they are engaged in, my enthusiasm for the things I’m passionate about and believe in. I don’t share in order to seek approval, acknowledgement or recognition. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it, or enjoy receiving it, if it happens – I am human, after all.

What I realised this week though, is that while I don’t actively seek those things, I’m insulted when put in a position where I'm made to feel that I don’t deserve them - because I know that I do. However, I'm also now aware that I’ve retreated to a place where I will no longer give certain people the opportunity to reject me – a place where it’s 'safe'. I’m not sure how I feel about this. In a way, I can understand why, based on past history, I would do this. However, I’m also worried about the opportunities I could be missing out on, and I don't want to live with regret.

So where to from here? Well, I’m going to continue doing my thing…and sharing it with anyone who’ll listen. I’m going to continue to strive to improve and be better. I’m going to continue to speak out when necessary. And I’m going to find my courage to once again put my hand up to lead when the opportunity arises. Will I get rejected? Almost certainly. Will I let that stop me? Not anymore!


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