Fear: Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Let’s face it: very few of us are fearless individuals leaping without thought into whatever the world sets before us. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us are afraid of lots of things – and I’m not just talking actual phobias. I mean the kind of fears that keep you up at night and which are intrinsically connected with your responsibilities, duties, and loved ones. Will you be able to pay the bills this month? What if something happens to you or a loved one? How will you protect your children?

I’m a worrier, and I think I probably come by it naturally – my grandmothers were / are both worriers, as is my mother. And a certain amount of fear is probably all right, so long as it doesn’t paralyze you. But therein is the problem: there is a line after which the fear is no longer protecting you, but insulating you – even from good things.

Writers certainly don’t have a monopoly on fear, but we do seem to be pretty familiar with it – maybe it’s playing with “what if” all the time that creeps into our everyday thoughts. Whatever the case, if you actually want to make money as a writer – or succeed at most anything, really – there will come a time when you have to face at least some of your fears. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of criticism, and perhaps even fear of success.

Fear of success? Doesn’t seem to fit up there, does it? And yet, I have met writers who seem to be afraid of success. Some too who have given up just a smidgen too soon – as though afraid of the success which lay ahead of them.

Now, like I said, I’m a worrier by nature. But I also know that a little fear may be healthy, and too much fear is suffocating. If you start spending all your time worrying about the “what ifs” of rejection, criticism, critique, success, fame, failure, and whatever else could be ahead, you’ll stop short and never go anywhere. Here’s the thing: you will be rejected. You will receive criticism, and not everyone will like you or your work. BUT, some will. And most importantly, YOU need to believe in and like your work. It is worth fighting for. It is worth trying to get right, even if it takes oodles and caboodles of edits and rewrites and you just want to burn the whole thing and never even look at another word again.

So, by all means, set yourself some limits and rules to keep you safe … but make sure you haven’t built yourself a cage. Because you were meant to soar, and you can only do that if every so often, you shake off the fears weighing you down, spread your wings, and take to the sky.

Is fear protecting you, or smothering you? How do we recognize that line?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.