School seemed to pass me by, that one life changing teacher everyone talks about must have been at another school because I never sat in front of them; but then I found workshops. I’ve travelled and criss-crossed both the Channel and the Atlantic many times over responding to my intuitive call. That inner tug guiding me to collected groups of people gathered together in the pursuit of experiential learning and the resulting education and growth. Mostly I can’t reason as to why I’m there but years later I can still quote facilitators, their stories and actions have inspired and educated me and indeed my life has been changed.
And so it was with a knowing confidence and optimistic expectation that I sat eagerly in the latest gathering. Sadly as the first day progressed, I felt that sinking feeling at the realisation that this facilitator was indeed a self declared teacher. A man who was confident that he knew what was best for us and what we needed to learn, who demanded our full attention as he lectured at us from his seemingly lofty self imposed position of superiority and seniority.
And I played my part, feigning interest and attention as perfected in the classroom over 7 years of secondary education. Being a good girl, not drawing attention to myself and staying under the radar knowing that by the law of physics, it would be break time soon.
However it seems that I’ve attended too many workshops and grown too much to imagine that I could be gagged and bound in a way that suited my teenage self and thus I could stay silent no more. A simple, calm query, my attempt at opening up a discussion provoked a remarkable reaction and defence mechanism, I must have offended deeply; it was not my intention.
The remaining half hour seemed to be aimed solely at ‘winning me over’, even to the exclusion of all others. His discomfort grew as I followed my inner voice, feeling what was right for me and refusing to obey and participate. I constantly checked in to my feelings as he resorted to ever more extraordinary behaviour to get me to join in. And as I witnessed his discomfort and pain so I witnessed my reaction - it would have been so easy to stand up and obey his pleas, it would have been so easy to join in with the others and release him from his self imposed torment. But what about me? What about what was right for me? Do I betray my inner voice, my truth? Do I stand up and obey so that he could feel better knowing that in that moment I would be feeling a whole lot worse? Is it my job to ‘make someone feel better’?
Just as he thought he knew what was best for me, how could I possibly know what was best for him? And so in the middle of this battleground I applied my default logic. ‘If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it’ and in the face of his braying and the whole room who by this time were surely thinking, for goodness sake Louise, just do it: I didn’t do it.
It’s not our job to ‘be good’ and stay under the radar, it’s our job to be true to ourselves, to connect to that inner and sometimes mad voice, it’s the only one that knows what’s right for us. It’s no wonder they call it the road less travelled but I’ve found that the more you trust that inner voice, the more you dare to follow it, the easier it becomes to recognise.
I’m sure there’s a workshop on that!