By Catherine Okafor
Saying yes to working towards my goals hasn’t always been easy. Saying yes to stepping outside of my comfort zone is even harder. Recently, both have been put to the test. Last month at Community Well, I hosted a grief writing workshop in partnership with The Dinner Party, an organization that brings 20 & 30 something’s together over dinner to discuss our grief. Since my mom passed away, three years ago, I’ve used writing as one of my main ways to cope with my grief. It’s been helpful to me as it serves as a way to express my inner thoughts on paper.
One of my goals has been to teach a grief writing workshop for those who, too, are grieving. Nerves settled in once The Dinner Party agreed to assist me with organizing and promoting the workshop. My inner critic popped up and I wondered how would I show up for folks, was I ready and capable of facilitating this workshop and the biggest question that stayed on my mind – what qualifications gave me the power to lead this workshop?
Unfortunately, I am qualified to lead such a workshop – grief is a part of my personal journey. My love and passion for writing gives me the drive to lead folks in writing their grief. With this in mind, a certain energy came over me and I felt ready to host the workshop. But, with days left until the workshop, I still hadn’t developed the curriculum. I was having a brain fart and the only thing on my mind was stressing out over my full-time job – making sure my high school seniors enrolled in a college or university. It wasn’t until the day of the workshop that I felt a huge sense of inspiration to put the finishing touches on the curriculum.
The morning of the grief writing workshop, I participated in a writing and performance class. Over the course of eight weeks, I’ll utilize my life story as a way to write and study the ins and outs of solo performances. I’ve always wanted to write and perform but always managed to shy away from it. I decided to stop dreaming about it and just go for it. Initially, I was beyond excited about the class but days leading up to it, I became overwhelming nervous and wanted to back out of it. But, for those who know me – when I put my mind to something, I always stick with it and see it through no matter how nervous I may become.
During class, we participated in a number of improv activities that for sure put me way beyond my comfort zone. In the first couple of activities, I noticed that I controlled my body and actions too much. Almost to the point where I felt myself not being fully present and engaged with the group. The inner critic once again made its presence known and I started to judge and critic myself. It took me the majority of the class to shake it out. As we continued with the improv activities, I became more comfortable and more present in my body. By the end of class, I felt ready for Hollywood! Well, not really but more close. As we began writing on the prompt that was assigned – inspiration for the grief writing workshop blossomed within me. I put my pen to the paper and was able to fully write, edit and finalize the curriculum for the workshop. Taking this class has come at the perfect time. It is teaching me a life lesson that will always stay with me in my professional and personal life. This is a true testament of stepping outside of my comfort zone. Wish me luck with the performance class!
Have you ever got so stuck in your head that it took you to the very last minute to finish a project that you’ve been working on? When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone? How did that feel? What did it look like? More importantly, would you do it again?