I've been writing this post in my head for months. And months. Turns out, y'all can't actually read my mind. Huh. Who knew? (I did. I totally knew.) ***UPDATE*** I waited over a week to post this. Because of my scaredypants.
See, this is a post I've been afraid to write, which is pretty ironic, since what I want to write about is fear. Again, you ask? Yes. Why? Because, much like love, fear actually is all around. Really, though, because Hemingway told me to "write hard and clear about what hurts." Lord knows I've thought long and hard about it; I may as well share it.
Here is something I don't want you to know about me. Something I've been trying to hide from you, by hiding myself from you. Hell, I've even been trying to hide it from myself, which has not been an incredibly effective strategy. I thought I was putting the fear in a box, but I think I just ended up shutting myself into a box, instead. You know, since fear is a part of me, and I can't very well get away from me (but I've tried; oh, how I've tried to outrun myself. It doesn't work. Ever tried? Annoyingly, the parts of me I've tried to ignore are incredibly patient, and they can run just as fast as I do.). Like, if I can't see the thing I'm afraid of owning in myself; if I try to intentionally avoid looking at it, then it can't see me and it ceases to exist.
Here goes: Know what's scarier than failure? Well, it turns out that for me, it's success. I know. It's hilarious. Seriously, though, sharing that I'm doing well makes me queasy. Many of my closest friends have either just found out that my coaching practice is successful, or they're finding out if they're reading this post.
[Tweet "What's scarier than failure? Sometimes, it's success."]
I've got to say, I did not see this one coming. Nope, I did not anticipate that getting what I wanted — or rather, more than I wanted, even — would
make me fairly nervous scare the everliving shit out of me.
I was so busy busting my ass and being afraid that I wouldn't make it as a coach and entrepreneur, that it never occurred to me that I had no clue what to do when I got what I wanted. Just for the record, "not making it" for me mostly means "do it good enough according to me", which is a fairly slippery goal to aim for, since it's roughly two miles past perfect, a distance that I carefully maintain at a hearty X + 10 steps from wherever I currently am.
So suddenly, there I was, with a full practice, and what'd I do then? I FREAKED RIGHT OUT. For months. I mean, it took me a couple of months to even get that I was successful, and once I did, I kept it a secret. A guarded and privately precious thing of which I was really afraid. It was like building a house of cards higher than I ever thought I could. I was unable to sit back and admire my handiwork. I couldn't enjoy what I'd built; I couldn't even own it! I sat there, feverishly terrified that a hearty wind might come out of nowhere and send it all flying apart, landing in a disappointing and inevitable rubble around my feet.
A few months ago, in August or September, while co-leading a workshop, some of the participants asked me to share how my business looked, six months after leaving my job with the BC government. As I shared, honestly and accurately, I could feel my palms start to sweat as I began to wish I'd kept my mouth shut. Thankfully, I was relieved by a teammate who'd come to fill in for me while I took my break.
I left the workshop and walked through the streets of downtown Seattle, trying to escape my growing unease and possibly dodge the sense that I was being followed. Feeling hunted, I had to fight the urge to look over my shoulder. I honestly felt like I was trying to dodge Fate, or like God was going to smite me for having it too good. As though an omnipotent force of the universe would only figure out what I was up to because I had the sheer audacity to say it out loud. I was waiting for the lightening bolt. For the other shoe to drop.
If this sounds ridiculous to you, then pull up a chair and join the club, my friend. It kind of is. Ridiculous, I mean. As fear so often is. Then again, it also makes a lot of sense. As fear so often does.
Of course it was terrifying: Remember my sad story? It didn't include a chapter where I got everything I wanted, in a universe that was abundant and generous. It definitely, however, did include several chapters, epilogues and appendices in which the inevitable falling apart, disaster and loss of everything dear to me was predicted and outlined in some detail. That's one hell of a choose-your-own adventure, huh?
As if the fear wasn't bad enough, I have heartily beat myself up for being a cowardly twit for months. I've had just about enough. Of the fear running the show, and of the judgment I've heaped upon myself for having fear at all. Having fear is normal, and my empirical evidence has demonstrated that heaping judgment upon oneself does not actually accomplish anything at all. It feels like a lot of work ("I feel shitty, so I must being doing something, right?"), but achieves sweet fuck all.
What's scarier than failure? Whatever I say I'm afraid of, I suppose. Fear is a fickle and sly little bugger. Owning my fear means owning my success. Here goes.
This is what it looks like to get over myself.
Can you relate? Ever gotten everything you wanted, or achieved a goal, only to be terrified after you realized you'd crossed the goal posts? Let me know.