Befriending Fear While Leading by Example
Published on: July 29, 2019
Inspired by motherhood, artist and coach Anna, took fear by the hand in order to overcome her vulnerabilities.
By Anna Croucher
In February, I plucked up the courage to have my first solo art exhibition, 20 years after attending Kingston University, London, and specialising in Fine Art. I had never stopped painting and making in those two decades, but finally, I was going to show my work. This was something that previously I never felt able to do. Like so many of us, I feared the exposure and judgement of others, a fear strengthened by the importance of art for me.
I’m sharing my story with you because the thing that helped me overcome this fear is something we have in common. I became a parent.
Somehow becoming a mum had given me the courage to do this, to show my work, to be open to the feedback, and to dare to be brave. Some wise soul (I cannot remember who but it certainly wasn’t me) once said that our duty as a parent is to be the adult we would like our children to be. I would like my daughter to feel able to pursue what’s important to her in life, to do courageous things (even if they scare her a little), to dream big and be resilient enough to manage the inevitable knocks along the way. If I want this for her, then I need to make sure I am setting this example in my own life.
My exhibition accompanied a performance of The Vagina Monologues at Check Inn 99 by Bangkok Rising. The work shown spanned a period of two years crafted during a time I was making sense of Bangkok, finding my tribe to connect with, whilst trying (and failing) to get my head around how women were, and still are, represented in the city.
Anyone who spends some time in Bangkok will see the objectification of women in places like Soi Cowboy, as well as the preoccupation with beauty, selfies, self-marketing, and well-polished appearances for women. The artwork aimed for connectedness between women, highlighting the potential power if a woman embraces her authentic self.
My work during this time was made for me, without thinking about an audience or ever showing anyone. This gave me freedom to play and express myself without boundaries. However, it also meant that when an opportunity came up that was so perfect I couldn’t say no, I knew the experience would be far more personal than otherwise and leave me feeling quite vulnerable.
Brene Brown is a researcher and storyteller who shot to fame after her TED talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, which went viral with 40 million views. The essence of her work is that you have to be vulnerable in life, to be open to feedback, to failure and hurt, if you are going to live a full life. As she sums up “I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”
In this modern age, we have become used to avoiding things deemed unpleasant: headaches, tiredness, hunger. We get very good at rectifying these perceived ‘negative’ states, popping pills, drinking coffee, zoning out. It’s natural that we don’t want any discomfort to come up in life. However, when the avoidance of discomfort becomes our focus, then we can miss out on experiences in life.
On top of this, human beings are hardwired to think the worst (something called negative bias), which serves for our survival, but not often our happiness. These ‘bad’ emotions can, however, teach us that something is important to us. If we didn’t care about something, we wouldn’t feel a reaction.
I didn’t like feeling scared about exhibiting, nervous about what people thought of me, or thinking that people would think I was arrogant/not talented/naive (insert negative word). But I recognised that these feelings were here simply because it was so important to me to show my work and that these feelings were OK; not great, but there as part of the package. They were something that I could make friends with — my indicator that I am following a life that is meaningful, authentic, and inspiring for my daughter Rita.
The Guest house
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
– Rumi, 13th Century
About the Author
Anna Croucher has a diverse skill set as an artist, occupational therapist, coach and mindfulness meditation teacher. She has been in Bangkok for nearly three years working at an international school as a head of girls boarding and student welfare officer. Her most exciting and challenging new role is that of a mother to a one-year-old girl.
If you are interested in participating in Anna’s upcoming art project focused specifically around motherhood, power and vulnerability please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects.
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