I’ve let fear stop me from following dreams and taking risks. While I may have gotten better at calculating risk and the possibility of failure, thereby taking more chances, I still am debilitated by fear sometimes. It’s a horrible way to live and I’m admitting that it is, in my opinion, one of my biggest flaws. To a lot of people, I come off as self-assured, confident, and an all around go-getter, but in reality I am terrified most of the time. Not big things that make sense though…irrational fears.
I think that a lot of the reasoning behind this ties in with my depression that I talked about here before in my article “Weakness as Strength”. Even though I am winning that particular battle, there is still a part of my brain always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always looking for the bad to sneak back in. Right now, I have a lot of fantastic things happening in my life. I am happy, truly happy with where I am in life. This is rare for me and it’s almost too good. I’m terrified of what will happen to make it all come crashing down around me. Crazy, right?
There was an experience in my life that sums up this feeling SO perfectly that I’ll share it with you real quick. I’d just graduated high school and was taking my second trip to Greece with two of my sisters and my best friend. We were staying with family in Halkidiki, a town with beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. It was heaven. We were all in the water swimming, but I’d drifted off by myself at one point. I looked down through the water and realized I could see the bottom clear as day. I was convinced this was a trick so I swam back to shore, picked up a black beach stone and swam back out to right before the buoy.
Treading water, I let the rock slip from my fingers and watched as it floated down before hitting the ocean floor and causing a slight disturbance in the sand. I should have been awed by how beautiful my surrounds were but instead I freaked out! In my head this just meant that I would see the shark coming, either torpedoing towards me or propelling from the ocean floor up to attack me. I left the water as fast as I could and never went in above my knees again. If that’s not the definition of irrational fears I don’t know what is. It’s not normal and I know that. That crystal clear perfection was just TOO good to be true and even though I did see the beauty in it, I just knew it had to also mean something bad.
The same can be said for taking the leap into writing. I can remember saying that I wanted to be a writer from the time I learned to write. I used to get into trouble in Kindergarten on purpose because the punishment was writing your letters and I loved to write- to create something with my hand, pencil, and paper. The teacher laughed when she figured it out and let me write as often as I wanted after that. So you see, when it’s been a dream that long and time finally allowed me to explore it more seriously, I was terrified. What if this life long dream turned out to be a failure? What if I finally let people read my writing and they hated it? Could I suck? What would I do if I did? I was paralyzed by fear, scared to write, so afraid my dreams, hopes, and ambitions would come crashing down around me if I let them be known to the world.
Does that make any sense to you? There I was on the edge of something new and exciting, but I could already see the end. I saw my words on paper going up in flames, people telling me that I had no future, or to find another passion in life because this one would take me nowhere. I spent countless nights crying, shaking, and scared before I allowed them to be seen. One follower turned to a couple hundred and now by the grace of some amazingly supportive people I’m averaging thousands of hits a day. People actually think I’m half-decent at this writing thing! The realization that all those nights as a starry-eyed girl writing in a journal, jotting down ideas, and dreaming of people reading my words were not wasted, but rather time well spent. It’s been one of the most amazing things in my life to date.
I’m getting better at taking chances. I’ve realized that by letting those fears cripple me I’m missing out on some amazing opportunities in life. With each “risk” I gain more confidence and it isn’t as hard to take the next one. You have to understand this to know how incredible I think it is that I get to write for this wonderful site because two years ago I’d have never had the confidence to email in these posts and say, “I have something to say and I know it is worth hearing”. I fully expect my first novel to be done by 2013 so all those risks, all that anxiety, it’s worth it. You, reading this right now is proof that not letting your fears get the best of you is a fight worth fighting. If you can see yourself in even a little part of the anxiety that I struggle with sometimes please know you aren’t alone; I understand. Also, know though that as uncomfortable as it might be the more you put yourself out there the easier it gets.