The Thing About Fear

The Thing About Fear

By the time you read this, it will be 2016. A brand new, sparkling shiny year. A time for beautiful new beginnings and quite frankly, a time of fear for many.

I’m at home with my family right now, and it’s New Year’s Eve. My sons are gathered around my husband’s laptop and they are watching Star Wars videos on YouTube. The rockin’, bashin’ New Years Eve something-or-other is on the television in the background.

I am sitting here with the tap-tap-tapping of the keyboard, wondering aloud what is just around the bend in the new year. I am waving the white flag, and I am scared.

I am taking a big leap of faith. I am investing in full-time childcare for my youngest, and I’m taking the plunge into freelance writing full-time.

I will need to make enough to cover the cost of the monthly tuition, plus a lot more to be profitable. I have safety net money in a savings account, just in case.

© Craig Ikegami
© Craig Ikegami

But a favorite old friend of mine has stopped by to visit (or camp out on my head), which I think is the case with a great many of us trying something new this year: Fear.

It is something that I’m used to navigating now, so it isn’t so intimidating. But it’s always there in some form. Fear. Fear of failure, fear of success. Fear of mediocrity.

Though failing is hard and very trying on the mind (and soul), I think it’s sort of the easy part. If you fail at something, you can run back to your old comfort zone and hide out at a level you were at before and regroup. Comfort zones, I can handle.

I have a lot more of a fear of success. It’s a good problem to have, no doubt. But there are a lot of things that go along with it that concern me.

What if I reach success? Then what? Would I ever be able to top it? What if it changes me? Would I still be able to make sound decisions and respect the boundaries I have in place for myself and my family? What if it gets to a point where it becomes more about money than writing?

What if it goes beyond my wildest dreams? Am I ready for that? Will I be a good leader? Will I truly believe it? Will I forget my why? Will I become a target? What if I lose relationships because of success? Will people think that I think I’m better than they are? (Rest assured on that one, friends. I definitely don’t think I’m better than you.)

Writing full time is my dream. I’m doing this. It’s what I’m made to do, and I cannot be swayed. But I think doubt naturally starts to creep in when we enter new territory.

I think that’s what fear is. Stepping out into the unknown. There are so many variables that could change your course dramatically. But the thing about fear is… what if those changes are for the better?

I took a personality test once. I tested very high in critical thinking, and very low in liking surprises. So I am essentially stepping out into the entrepreneurial world not liking surprises. Oh, the irony.

But the things we don’t like grow us, don’t they?

I’m doing it, regardless. It may seem like the natural progression of things, as I have found success in writing part time. But it isn’t easy for me.

Something I saw a few days ago really drove the point home for me. I was having lunch at a small cafe, and I could see a cemetery close by. There was a graveside service happening under two tents and I couldn’t stop watching.

I’m not morbid and I don’t pleasure in anyone’s pain. But I kept thinking about the person laying in the casket. Did they do everything they wanted? Did they sit on the sidelines because they were scared? Or at the end, did they sit on their deathbed satisfied, knowing that they did all they could, using their gifts in life? I don’t want to have regrets.

I think being vulnerable and humble and pointing out fears is a nice way of disarming them. And I plan to tell those fears that they have a reasonable place, but they can also just shut up already so I can get some work done.

Is there something you want to do but you’re scared of doing it? Stick your toe in the water. Even just a little bit. It’s probably cold. But what if it takes you an amazing place?

Happy New Year.

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