30 August, 2016

A Fear of Success

I was struck again this week with the realization that I have a very acute fear of success.

I am tired of the self-sabotage; tired of my best intentioned dreams being littered behind me like forgotten gifts after Christmas. I am tired of being really excited to get out their for my business, or to try and meet new people (making friends in adulthood sucks by the way), only to have my borderline social anxiety keep glued to the chair and see opportunity turn into frustration.

So I did what someone with my bent does, I googled, ‘how to overcome fear of failure.’ I found some interesting articles (1, 2, 3). I made notes in my bullet journal, ready for that ah ha! moment to come. But at the end of it all I was left with a list of questions and the realization that staying on the surface wasn’t going to cut it.

I ended up at the beach on Friday. Listening to the waves hit, with a backdrop of other people’s conversation, I let my mind rest enough to consider why I'm sabotage myself when it comes to my dreams.

To put it into perspective, I am currently spending a lot of time writing, working on a couple manuscripts, trying to get my career launched. I write historical fictions, women’s lit, and nonfiction thoughts on faith and life.  I have a journal company where I try to infuse the ideas of intentionality, deliberate faith, and knowing thyself into something meaningful.

I also sell fair trade jewelry made by women all over the world. It’s gorgeous, well made and unique. You can wear it knowing the person who crafted it was treated well, paid fairly and edified in her work. It’s right up my alley: women’s rights, women’s empowerment, connecting people around the world, educating people here about human trafficking, the reality for widows in much of the world, the truth behind most international adoptions, and the power we have with our dollar to effect change.

I love what I do. For the first time ever I can focus on the heartbeats of who I am. This should be my golden moment, my bliss, that time in a TV show where I am spinning around throwing my hat in the air with a huge grin on my face.

So why do I feel so inadequate? Small. Unprepared. Uncertain.

Are these the fears of starting something new? Starting a small business takes courage. Putting your voice into the world takes gumption. Going from a 9-5, to making it on your own is enough to petrify many to stay within the lines.

But that isn’t what this is.

I know how to grow my business. I make plans to do it and then don’t follow through. I edit, and edit, and reedit my stories but never get to the point of identifying an agent and writing a letter.

These choices frustrate me. They make me want to slink away. But part of me says, No! This is what I want. Just do what you need to.

But I know what life is like here. I know life in the trenches. I know what it is to fight for what you want. To dig and plan and try to get so you can see the land above. But the land above is scary. It’s unknown.

What if I actually make a higher level in my company and earn enough so my husband can quit his job and get his run at pursuing what he loves?

What if my voice resonates and people care what I have to say? What if I write books and put myself out there and people actually listen?

Why are these dreams scary instead of invigorating?

My first reaction is childhood. I was raised to be seen and not heard. I was raised to serve others and pull my identity by ensuring other people were taken care of.

I also stuttered severely as a child, something that hindered my ability to speak up for myself. 

I was told I would never be a writer because I could not spell.

I can list these offenses almost without thinking. Part of me wants to brush them off – that can’t be it. It’s too easy. I’ve dealt with those issues before.

So what’s underneath? If those are the surface, what lurks beneath them? Even now I am having to fight the urge to get on social media, to numb, to look for another article to answer what I can only find in myself.

This is a journey. One I invite you to come on with me. I will try to be candid here, to write with intentionality, love and honesty, to get to the core of what all of this means, to dive into the muck of my own heart, the hurt of the past, the fear of the future. Behind it all is the question: can I place my future in God’s hands and leave it there?

To the journey friends.

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© Amanda Lunday