"Moving Through Fear and Beyond Stuck"
By Rebecca Irwin (an IVA parent)
When you don’t know where to begin.
When you don’t even know the questions to ask.
When you don’t want to admit you don’t know.
When you feel like you should be better.
When you thought you knew the solution and it turns out you don’t.
When you’re afraid to take the risk.
When you have a hard time asking for help.
When you see others do it with ease and you struggle.
When you compare yourself to others.
When you feel embarrassed about where you are.
When you expect the end result without working through the process.
There are so many ways to get stuck. It can feel just like a tire that is stuck in the mud, the more we spin, the more stuck we get. And then there’s the energy of our fears keeping us there.
Fear of judgment
Fear of shame
Fear of embarrassment
Fear of failure
Fear of being wrong
Fear of not knowing
Fear of expectations
Fear of disappointment
Fear of losing popularity
Fear of success
Fear of rejection
All of these fears play into getting and staying stuck! Panic and anxiety are outcomes and the process is circumvented just to get through it.
Today I discovered that one of the beautiful gifts of the Intellectual Virtues is that they help us to slow down. They allow process. They give us permission to say, I am not good at this YET. Before today, I was under the impression that a student must approach each subject with curiosity to think well about it. But I have learned that if a student stretches their Intellectual Attentiveness with a readiness to stay focused on the task and to notice important details, their curiosity can grow. I find this so hopeful!
When my student or I exercise a virtue and invest in the process, we can actually begin to care more deeply about a subject. We can let go of our fear to get the correct answer and free ourselves to take more risk. Oh yes, this is Intellectual Courage - "a readiness to persist in thinking or communicating in the face of fear, including fear of embarrassment or failure”! Although this is hard for me to practice myself and model for my student, I think risk is where the reward is! Isn’t it delightful to discover new ideas? Isn’t it exhilarating to realize you can do something you never thought you were capable of? Isn’t it awesome to move forward?
For reals? You say. This sounds idealistic and dreamy but when the rubber meets the road (er, mud), will it have any traction? This is a question I have asked myself. A person can’t very well get themselves unstuck alone, can they? But when a teacher, a principal, a parent, or a friend cares about the process and is interested in the student as a thinker and learner, they can offer leverage to help get them unstuck. No more spinning...your kiddo can start to gain traction as they move toward growth. In truth, this is requiring me to grow with my student, but I think I would prefer the journey and discoveries that lie ahead more than staying in the mires of stuck, cuz we’re not there … yet.