Fear of Success

Who in the world is scared of success, right? Everyone wants the gold medal, wants to finish first, cross that big, audacious goal off the list and bask in the feeling of being awesome. It’s the dream, right? That’s what I always thought for me anyways. I want to make my goals, reach the finish line, be a badass boss lady.


But recently at JordanCon, I got the chance to spend a lot of time chatting with some great people, including John Hartness, a writer I’ve always admired and looked up to. While we were talking about what projects I’ve been working on, he asked what I’d done with all the things I’d finished. My answer: “They’re hanging out on my hard drive.”


And saying that out loud made me wonder what in the world I was doing. If I wanted to be a writer, to be someone who one day made a living (or at least a side income) from my writing, someone who put out stories and books all the time… why were my finished projects hanging out on my hard drive and not out in the hands of readers?


I thought I knew about what I wanted but the things I was doing didn’t match what I said my goals were. What in the world self? If I could take myself out for a drink and ask what the hell, I’d have given myself a real talking to. Instead, I went home and looked through my hard drive to see what all was there.


One novel that I still believed in, three novels that were shelved for good reasons, and close to 10 short stories that I’d sent out to one place and then never touched again. Why? Why had I just put them away and never touch them again?


I couldn’t find the answer at first, but then it came to me slowly then all at once. I was afraid to take the step towards my goal. Afraid of my own goals…minds are really strange places.


So… why am I afraid of the things that I say that I want? Well, after a lot of thought, I’ve hit on it. I’m afraid to take that first step because what if I screw it all up? I can’t screw it up if I never take the leap. If I never make the attempt, I can keep dreaming about the goal and not about the scary path that leads to the goal.


Basically I view my goal as the top of the mountain. While I’m on the ground, I can see the top quite clearly and I can even see the path that leads though a forest and to the top. But the second that I take the first step onto the path, I enter the forest where it’s harder to see the magical top of the mountain. Instead, I can see all the tree branches, stones and rough patches of trail. The work, the reality becomes more pronounced and I start doubting I can even do it.


I retreat out of the forest and back to the clearing to look at that beautiful goal and decide ‘Hm… better wait to give that a go.’ and I never make the trip.


I totally psych myself out before I’ve even given it a proper go.


So yeah, I’m afraid of it. I’m afraid that I haven’t got what it takes, that somewhere in the forest is a glen of people who will hate everything I do, that there will be the pond of people I’ve disappointed, that I will never be good enough to climb up the path.


So to protect myself, I never walk into the forest. I avoid trying and instead talk about this goal, dream about it in the safety of the clearing where none of the pain from going after a goal can get me.


Even knowing that, I am hesitant to begin. I’m still afraid of trying and failing, but now that I’m aware of what’s going on, I feel like maybe I can take that first baby step onto the path.


I can start the climb to the peak and I’m sure I’ll screw it up, fall down, hit the pond of disappointment and the glen of disapproval but I’m tired of hanging out in the clearing. My neck hurts from constantly looking up but never ahead.


So, here we go. Let’s get to climbing and wear our scraped knees and dirty clothes as a badge of honor.


Let’s go kick some ass.