“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Clearly, Spencer Johnson (or Sheryl Sandberg, whoever to you) knows the contents of my heart and managed to mold it like dough into quote form.
During the idle moments of my day — which I now have a lot of since I started a new evening position — I loop this question through my mind. It may not always be in question form; it’s just become a normal thought process of life, a byproduct of an everyday action. When I catch up on news and blogs, I think it. When I play stylist in my wardrobe, modeling outfits I dream up and imagine on Wherever-In-The-World Fashion Week attendees donning, I think it. When I start writing the first few sentences of a new essay, I think it. When I nod off on the subway, I think it. All whilst conjuring up (semi-) empty promises to one day act on the thoughts I have.
It kinda sucks. I’m both a Pisces and a writer, so my creative mind tends to roam freely, but this inexplicable fear dwelling within me is bottle-necking so many things that could be. It’s a problem. What the hell do I have to be so afraid of?
I have this very real thought that I’m going to mess up and disappoint or be judged and be rejected. In my mind, I just can’t deal with that. It’s not even like in my life, I’ve had a moment where someone played me like that or I was some sort of social outcast. I’ve never had a major loss in my life. No epic breakup. No heartbreak. No fist fights. No enemies. No run-ins with the law. No tragedies. No nothing. And I’m scared to death about it. That’s not normal. I know I should be thankful that nothing has compromised my spirit in my 23 years of life, but can’t help but feel terrified that I’m not equipped for a let down. A break down. No one goes through life without a low, but what will become of me when it comes? I’m not sure I’ll be able to deal. All of my life’s problems are born inside my mind. I’ve never been in a committed, long-term relationship… what’s wrong with me? My curves aren’t proportionate enough to be visually appealing in all the right ways… how do I fix that? All I love to do is write and take pictures, that’s all I’m good at… how will I make money with two things often given the eternal stigma of “hobbies”? I have these ideas I think are great, but I’m a rookie and I don’t know what I’m doing… how feasible is that idea? I think that I would look nice in this and that, but I don’t have the shape that suits the ensemble and I’ve never worn things like this before… what if I don’t look right?
Questions. Problems. All minuscule in actuality, but magnified in my mind as a grandeuse could-be dilemma. So what do I do? I play it safe. If you don’t mess up and act out, no one will say anything. I’ll blend in with the appropriate patchwork. I’ll work hard until someone “discovers” me. I have to be patient and just wait for it. No one likes someone who’s pushy and rushy. All my life, I’ve played it safe. It just seemed practical. I’m not much of a gambler, so no risks means no losses. But now I’m at the point in my life where the prospects of no gain are scaring me just as much as my anxiety for losses.
I’m trying hard, little by little, to let some of my guards down. My curiosities are eating me alive. I have a jar of could-be’s, maybe’s and what if’s filling up like the jug of loose coins sitting on my desk. Naturally, I’m a dreamer, so intricate scenarios and fantasies and awesome pseudo realities starring me buzz around my brain. Goals, hopes, ideas, partnerships and plans… they all exist… as dreams. I can see it, but it’s so far away from me. Vivid dreams. REM sleep that I’m fighting from within. I honestly want to wake the fcuk up already.
What will I do when I’m not afraid?
— Stacy Ann
This post originally appeared on From A Wildflower and is republished with permission.