A few weeks ago I attended an amazing graphic recording/facilitation workshop with Lauren Greene, of Dancing With Markers. On the center of each table she had small fidget/stress relievers for us, and some of them were miniature beach balls. In an instant, I was taken back to some summer memories of my childhood.
I remembered how my sister and I, as well as our neighborhood friends, would try with all of our might to force a beach ball under the water in the pool. An added challenge was to try to stand on it or at least balance one foot on it before toppling sideways into the water. After a lot of practice, there would sometimes be that brief and lovely moment of victory. And then - the beach ball would come exploding with great force out of the water. In the pool, that was fine. There’d be a huge splash, followed by lots of laughter.
Out of the pool, on the other hand, there typically isn’t a lot of laughter when “that thing” we’re tempted to hide or push down comes exploding to the surface. Without realizing it, we may be consuming a tremendous amount of energy and cognitive capacity by working so hard to keep it hidden under water. If you are Neurodivergent, you may relate to this as the process of masking day in and day out, or doubting yourself at every turn because of messages you’ve received from those around you for years, or for any other number of reasons.
When we try so hard to mask and hide in order to survive, we’re using energy we need for other things in our life. We’re depleting ourselves and draining our resources. The risk is also that when something comes to the surface, it doesn’t just lightly drift to the top. It may explode just like the beach ball, causing casualties along the way.
It takes courage to develop self-awareness, and it can bring with it a lot of freedom. Here are a few questions to consider as you think about what your “beach ball” might be.
What support might you need in order to release some of the pressure?
What energy or creativity might you rediscover if you weren’t working so hard to force something to happen or to push something under the surface?