Pushing Through The Fear
This piece originally appeared on the Eight Hundred Words blog, but fear is one of those emotions that never strays far from us. I heard someone say today that ‘Fear and Excitement can feel like the same thing in our stomach,’ and I wondered how many times I’ve avoided doing something because I was fearful. This piece may apply to writing, but it doesn’t change the message behind it. Fear doesn’t get to win. You do.
‘Don’t you want to change the world?’ flashed the text on my screen. I actually laughed out loud when I read it. The notion of me, a twenty-one-year-old who’s barely completed her degree, changing the world was so absurd I spat out my coffee.
The night before, I had sent (yet another) message to my friend, vomiting all my worries and fears into the little text block on Messenger. I’d whined that my words probably weren’t going to be good enough to be published by anyone. I wondered if it was too pretentious to call myself a ‘writer’ if I only had one self-published article online. I asked a bunch of ‘what if’s’ and ‘who did I think I was to set up a platform and be a voice.’
I typed out a whole essay, and he sent me back seven words.
Don’t you want to change the world?
To his credit, those words did stop me worrying. But only for five minutes. Then I went back to overthinking every little decision I was about to make.
I’ve written a lot about fear lately. Heck, I scored my first client because of my words on fear. I think what makes me an expert is that me and fear go way back. He was there when I wanted to apply for Class Captain but didn’t because I was scared of rejection. He lurked in the background years back when the writing itch first began and made me fearful of what people thought. He showed up every time I wondered if I was worthy of more in my life, and he always shut me down.
You see, fear is the guy you didn’t want to invite to your party but felt obligated to. He is a stage five clinger who latches to your side the entire night and begs to be the centre of your attention. When all you want to do is be the life of the party, he whispers taunts in your ear to keep you off the dancefloor. Fear wants to rob you of every little thing that could make you great. He loves seeing you doubt your ability to string together words and weave stories from your imagination because it keeps you small.
So let this be your pep talk today: Fear does not get to win. Fear does not get to smother your dreams to death. Sometimes the only way to get over it is to just do the damn thing. Sure, you may come out on the other side with a bruised ego – but you’ll still be alive! Fear shrinks every time you dare to step forward.
If you want to call yourself a writer, do it loud and proud. Forget this idea that to be ‘legit’ you need fancy by-lines, a publisher or get paid per word. If you write with intention, you’re a writer. Words have power and you need to speak out your own destiny.
If you want to set up a website and claim your domain name–go ahead and put your money where your mouth is. You don’t want fear delaying you for so long that someone else with the same name claims that website first.
If you want to post about your work, just do it. You are your first cheerleader. No one else will advocate for you as hard as you should for yourself. People may scroll right on through or they may roll their eyes. But someone needs the ideas and stories and wisdom you have to offer the world. Your story might be the lifeline they need to keep going. I always tell myself that even if only one person resonates with my words, it would be worth it .
I wish I could tell you that the anxious thoughts that dart around your mind and the urge to throw up will stop once you hit Point X on the map. That once you publish a certain number of articles or achieve the most notable byline, you’ll never feel the angsty clenching in your heart again. The truth is: fear is a constant companion. He’ll tag along whenever you even think about venturing outside your comfort zone or pursuing ‘something more.’ And gosh, I hope you’re constantly going on new adventures and saying yes to uncertainty. That’s what makes our lives so exciting.
You may think that just because I’m writing this, it means I’ve got it figured out (spoiler alert: I don’t). I still juggle fear every day–he just takes on different personas to the one I’m used to. But I have to decide every day that fear doesn’t get to smother my dreams anymore.
My friend was right to ask if I wanted to change the world. Maybe changing the world isn’t just setting up a multi-billion-dollar corporation or achieving ‘world peace.’ Perhaps it’s feeling the fear and moving forward anyways. When 99% of your head is screaming at you to stay insignificant, trust the 1% that whispers ‘just try.’
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