Merging the Elements: Facing my fears
One of my best friends is a doctor. I’ve watched her work towards this goal for as long as I can remember, always knowing exactly what she wanted and pushing every limit to chase that dream and make it her reality. Another of my best friends is a business coach. I’ve watched her move through jobs, always working her way up, searching for the thing that makes her heart sing, and knowing that in this role, she has found her place. The third is a woman who is without a doubt the hardest worker I know, committed to doing her job every single day, so that she can live the life she loves with the little family she has created for herself. I have watched these women over decades of friendship, shifting from our awkward teen years into the strong, powerful, intelligent women that they are today. I know that I have witnessed three very different stories unfolding, yet all have that same solid base of working hard to make goals reality. The goals shift, they grow and expand, but the hard work is constant.
People often say similar things about me – that I work hard, that I’m always working on something, that I set my mind to things and make them happen. I know that to be a truth in my life, to an extent. I have worked hard on my education, even when I wasn’t enjoying it, knowing that to finish (and in later degrees, to finish well), would open doors for me that I wanted to be able to walk through. I work hard to be good at my job, even on the days when it feels hard and exhausting and I feel broken by it, because I genuinely love teaching and being able to engage with my students is by far the best part of my work day. I work hard to be a good mother, even on the days when my son tells me with all the innocence of a four-year old throwing a tantrum over being made to wear pants (because clearly shorts are a necessity despite the cold weather outside) that he wishes I wasn’t his mummy, because that gremlin owns my heart, even when his innocence makes it ache. I work hard, even when I feel broken, when my mental health is wavering on the closer to unhealthy end of the spectrum. In those moments, I know to shift that hard work onto self-care and like in the other facets of my life, I work hard to move back into my healthy zone, because I don’t really know any other way to work.
What I don’t seem to be working hard on amidst all those other things I’m doing though is facing my deepest fear – because that is seriously terrifying to me. It’s no secret that I love to write – I’ve dipped my toes into the water with a few pieces published here and there after all. I’ve taken steps forward to make this my reality, and then quickly scampered back into the comfort of my everyday life, caccooned in the hard work required in all those other areas and therefore adequately able to explain away why I haven’t been writing – because uni, work, my family all take priority and the writing gets put aside. Yet here’s the thing. Even when I’m not physically writing, I can’t stop thinking about it: thoughts about the stories I’ve been working on, character traits, plot points, ideas for my website blog or a potential podcast idea that has been ruminating. In every other area of my life, I would bite the bullet and do the hard work, so why am I so bloody terrified of just getting it done? The truth is, I know why. I’ve even written about it on this blog before! That friend mentioned earlier, the business coach, she and I have discussed this particular issue many times, when she has tried to coax me into owning my truth and making this dream my reality.
That truth is: I am so damn terrified that I will fail.
I am scared that I won’t be able to do it, that I won’t be able to finish what I’ve started. I’m scared that I will finish it and that people won’t like it, that they’ll think I’ve been wasting my time. Worse though, is that I am so scared of these things that I sabotage myself so that I don’t have to deal with them. I let myself get busy with everything else, I let myself use excuse after excuse, willingly turning away from this dream because I’m so utterly scared of that failure that I’d rather do anything else and then fail by omission - because other, more important things came up, and in the end, it’s just writing, right?
Here’s the thing though – it’s not just writing. When I don’t write, I feel like a part of me is suffocating, lost in all the other things I fill my time with, instead of the thing my soul is longing for. I fucking hate being scared, and I really love proving people wrong (even myself), yet I keep telling myself it’s not important so that I don’t feel scared, and I keep sabotaging myself to prevent myself from feeling guilty about not chasing my dreams. So I’m owning it, here, in writing, on my blog and out for the world to see. Yes, I am still terrified that I will fail, but I am going to do it anyway. It’s time to stop sabotaging myself, it’s time to stop making excuses. I do not want to live my life with regret because I did all these wonderful things except for working my hardest to make the one dream I have wanted to chase since I was in primary school my reality!
My accountability starts here on this blog. Anyone following it will see that there is absolutely no consistency here. I am going to take my dear friend’s advice and show up for myself (I’m sure she’s saying ‘finally!’ and I can hear the laugh in her voice already) by writing a regular blog post – be it sharing snippets of the work that I am writing, reviewing the books I’m reading, or my thoughts on any and all things writerly. If you’re interested in hearing what I have to share, please subscribe to my mailing list. If you’re willing to hold me accountable and help me keep this promise to myself, by all means do so. Comment below, ask questions, prod me to get to it if I haven’t given you an update in a while!
As I have grown into my own self more over the years, I have been fortunate enough to know the truth in the platitude that we surround ourselves with like-minded people, for my closest friendship circle has expanded to include a number of phenomenal people, capable of building one another up, supporting one another’s dreams, and doing it all from a place of friendship rather than competition. This is my call to that circle. I am facing two fears today. In the process of admitting that I have been sabotaging my own chances of success, I am also asking for help! Share your questions, check in on how the writing is going, touch base with me and allow me to practise talking about my writing. I shy away from doing it out of fear, so it’s likely to be awkward and full of stuttered explanations, and that’s okay. I might stumble, I might embarrass myself, but I will continue to show up for myself.
After all, facing our fears is never meant to be easy right? Who knows, I might even enjoy the ride!