Here is what I wrote:
I've been seriously engaged with planning for the Weaving Arts tent at Midsummer Fete now for a couple weeks, and yet I've been worrying about it for much longer.
This is my first major public gig as a professional, and I've been taking my role as a leader at the event -- as I do with just about any leadership role, in fact -- very seriously. Leadership tends to bring my self-doubt, social uncertainty and fear of looking bad to the forefront of my mind; and in the past, this has been very distracting for me and made it difficult to just get on with leading.
Will people like the projects? What if the projects don't work or are too hard? What if nobody is interested? What if people think I'm a fraud? What if somebody gets hurt by doing the projects? What if? what if?
These were the sorts of questions that began to plague me after my excitement about getting the gig wore off. I was unable to think about the event without starting to feel dread; and the dread precluded anything else.
But a few weeks ago I decided that being my own enemy and victim just wasn't how I wanted to operate this time. I wasn't going to stand to the side wringing my hands and thinking: I was going to take action. I was going to get my feet on the ground, and practice.
I began by visiting Colony Farm Park, so that I had a mental picture of the setting in my head when I thought about the the Fete and could see what weaving materials were on hand. I got in touch with the Park Warden to ask about harvesting materials; turns out that they could get staff and volunteers to harvest it for me. I asked an artist I know who did this event a few years ago what she used.
But I was still feeling the dread. I reflected on that and realized that I was still in a passive role, hoping for the best. I didn't have any experience to guide me, and that lack of imagery and intuition was something that I was going to have to make up for through practicing in my imagination.
So I sat down one evening and spent two hours creating detailed, written visualizations of everything that was up to me about the day: what I'm wearing, how the tent looks, what the atmosphere in the tent is like, what my mission is, what sorts of materials and information I share with people, how I am being, everything.
Yes, it was grounding; I began to really move forward with clarity and to regenerate some of my initial feeling of excitement. I planned some projects, tried them out, and got positive feedback from other experienced artists. The dread was dissipating.
But the moment that finally freed me from the dread came as the result of something unrelated to my industrious efforts in planning and visualizing and practicing: I witnessed the first moments after a traffic accident between a motorcylce and a car. No one was hurt, but I pulled over and offered support at the scene and did what I could anyway. Later, at home, I realized that whenever I closed my eyes and saw the image of the red motorcycle lying on the road I felt that same dread that I got from facing leadership; that it was a feeling that just came anytime I was uncertain about what to do.
This epiphany gave me an unexpected sense of power over the feeling, that I had isolated it and recognized it as a spectre that haunts me in many places, but was not the same as those places. I allowed it to flood my entire body, so that every cell seemed filled with the mosquito whine of tension and bile; and then I just lay still, examining it. I called up the image of the red motorcycle lying on the road, saw that it was just a red machine lying there, and knew that it was separate from the dread; I called up images of leadership, saw that it was just a role, and knew that it was also separate from the dread.
And now I know that when I face leadership, I will face it just as a role, accepting my uncertainty without judgment, and without dread.