I've just finished the book/pamphlet Flinch and I wanted to share with you some of the reflection just defining the flinch has set in motion in me.
In 2012, I told my significant other that I wanted to break up. I had prepared for it for a while, but as I drew breath to say it, time suddenly slowed down. I felt like I was in a dream, or as if a horrible accident had happened but I still hadn't realized how bad it was. The two alternatives, so say it or not to say it, hung in the air and I was free to choose either of them. This was when I realized there was something special about the moments when your realize you're about to do something irreversible.
A year ago I wrote my goals for 2016 but chickened out on posting them online. I felt shame and inadequacy because looking for work in the Fall had revealed that I had little to demonstrate any of the skills and abilities I was convinced I had. In my piece I promised that 2016 would be about paying dues and laying roots, about not saying I'm done before the bell rings, about learning how to write through the pain and the self-loathing. I had realized the shape of my problems, but could not put my finger on them. I started saying that the way to get through something hard was to "go towards the pain", but I didn't do it myself.
In the Spring of 2016, Dr. AgileFant a.k.a. Jarno Vähäniitty told be off-hand that "if something is hard, you should do it more often". This instantly rang true, and I started saying it to everyone I faced a challenge with. Every time I got the same response: agreement that this was indeed the case, accompanied by a nervous laugh. I had realized that I need to go against instinct time and time again if I want to learn.
In early October I came back from a four-day vampire larp "Convention of Thorns" still neck-deep in my character, and on the following Monday I realized something had changed in me. I could talk to anyone and bring up anything without fear or hesitation. No chore felt repulsive, writing was as easy as putting words together and decisions happened without procrastination or doubt. I knew the effect is called bleed in the larp community and means that something from the fictional game bloods into a person's life, or vise versa, but the effect was something I had never felt in my life. I was free. I head learned that there was an option of living without fear and hesitation, even if this time the effect dissipated in two weeks.
Yesterday I learned that the word for what I had been tackling was flinch.
Flinch is the biological but largely instilled hesitation when doing anything that's not in your comfort zone. For some people it might be talking to strangers, for others it might be staying in and listening to the sound of your own head. The point is, we all flinch at a lot of things and if we don't fight it we end up living our lives in a corridor that leads from bed to breakfast to work to home to bed, and we never get any of the things we really want.
This has been my life with the flinch.
It's about to change.
Because as long as there is flinching, there won't be co-creation, there won't be Agile and there won't be a complete dissertation at the end of 2017. And that's unacceptable.
(Also you should read the book, it's short and comes with exercises!)