Letting go of Fear
By: Dr. Susan Aglukark, O.C.
My first few months in Ottawa, I was in a constant state of hyper awareness, I loved my new found independence but I very quickly found that I had no clue the dangers of living in a city. I remember going for a walk late one night at a park and when I went to work the next day I mentioned that I had gone for this walk in the park and the next thing my boss is practically yelling at me telling me that that park in particular is a very dangerous place to be at night and alone, I had no idea!
I had a lot to learn about city life, bus routes, apartments, grocery stores, I remember spending hours at a grocery store just stunned at how much there was to pick from. Living in a city was like starting all over again but having only the emotional boundaries with which we grew up with I always felt like I had to dig a little deeper to figure out simple things like cheques writing, budgeting, scheduling etc. An example of an emotional boundary is the term: yai or yai ilaa! Which means but I’m scared (or afraid) in a situation like mine, if I used or thought the term yai ilaa I would be saying it’s too much to learn so I won’t bother, again, afraid because I literally didn’t know what to do, in this case, not ilirasuk, I just did not ever have to apply “common sense” to that situation (ie. taking a city bus) because it never existed in my previous world.
This was a new fear, having to always ask for simple things like how do I get on the bus? Do I pay? How much are the bus tickets? Where do I get them? Who do I talk to? Will he/she think I’m stupid for asking? Where do I get on the bus and where do I get off the bus? Can I ask someone on the bus? Will they think I’m stupid?
Groceries, why so many kinds of jam? What is the difference? Who do I ask? What will the think? How many different kinds of meat are there really???? And yikes!!!
And fruit, so much fruit!!!! Vegetables!!!! How does one cook them? Now I have to think about what pots and pans to use for cooking these vegetables?
The biggest fear for me was always being concerned that everyone would think I am stupid but we are not stupid, we have only that with which we grew up with, home, community, environment, the conversations we have around the table, the books we read in our schools/libraries, and all of the above were often limited to small town Nunavut life and living, (I distinguish between small town Province and small town Nunavut because there is a big leap between even those two).
I chose to leave to start over, I had to choose again whether I wanted to look like a fool for my new life, I chose to look like a fool, I chose to ask questions, I chose to figure things out for the new life I was giving myself. I liked who I was becoming (long before I started singing or songwriting), I wanted to stay on that journey, I had to accept that for the first little while I would have a lot of learning to do, as I learned new things, fear did not so much control me as motivate and equip me. I learned to replace yai ilaa with atiimi (another Inuktitut word which kind of means bring it on).
That first year in Ottawa was quite possibly the biggest “learning” year for me, I learned so much about myself that when the opportunity to step into a recording studio came up, my first thought was: hmmm, sure, let’s see what that’s all about! And not, oh wow! Finally, a chance at my dream life!! I was still very much in the “stop being controlled by my fears” ! state of mind and not yet in the “engage my dreamer” statement of mind. This was a good thing because in hind sight, choosing to (begin to) learn to manage my fears was going to be a very critical tool for what would become the “rest of my life”.
Recap: If something is worth fighting for, it’s also worth looking like a fool for.