We all know someone that humbles us with their skills, their intelligence and their abilities. I know I know many people like that. But among those lucky ones, there’s always that person who just seems to screw up in spite of themselves. It’s my friend “D” who can do virtually anything artistic, from drawing to sculpting in fabric. It’s “M” who can charm the skin off a snake, and paints photorealistically, or it’s “J” who had the looks and skill to have had a fulfilling career on stage.
These are all individuals with more than their share of talent, yet they’ve done nothing with it. Any of them could have started a business, written a book, or parlayed their skills into something really special. Instead, they’ve all lived tragic, unhappy lives and have never really exploited their potential.
I have a theory. It’s simple: fear. Fear of success, as well as the fear of failure.
Fear of failure is wicked. I’ve met writers who have been stuck on a project for years because they’re afraid to actually put it out there to be looked at. Even giving it to a critique partner or beta-reader is more than they can deal with.
Fear of success is even more insidious. There is responsibility that comes with success. How do you follow up that best-selling book with another? What if your next project sells well, but is a critical flop? Then there are more practical fears, such as money management and organizing your life to accommodate that success.
The people that I mentioned above are real, and without exception, their lives are unhappy and discontent. They gave up, and when you close the door on your creative self, life becomes bleak and unsatisfying. That creativity seeks another outlet, and sometimes that outlet can be far from healthy.
My challenge to you is this: take a risk. Try. To get Biblical, your light won’t shine if you hide it under a basket. And now that I think of it, if you put an open flame under a basket, you’re risking a nasty fire…
I’m not talking only about writing or art, but life in general. How long have you put off joining a gym because you’re afraid of the opinions of others? Maybe you want to take a class at the college, but it’s been so long and you don’t know if you can keep up with the younger students. Or my favorite, “Why should I get my hopes up when I’ll probably fail anyway?”
Let it go. Gather up your confidence, even if it’s the tiniest of shields. Cultivate thick skin. The only way to build your muscle is to exercise it. If you approach a wish with a plan, it’s no longer a dream, but a goal. And if you have a goal, write it down, make plans on how to carry it out. Don’t be afraid of succeeding! Don’t be afraid of failure either.