Did you know what you wanted to be when you were young?
We get asked this question when we’re children and usually, the response is quick: Doctor, firefighter, explorer. We respond quickly because we’re fearless. However, as we get older, our minds change and so does our response.
Suddenly we’re about to graduate college with a degree that we have no idea what to do with (hello Liberal Arts). When we finally finish the school system, we’re left alone to survive in the world and the first thing we think of is fear. Fear of the unknown with the constant mantra:
“I have no idea what I’m doing.”
The older we become, the more fearful we become.
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. It was something that I loved and felt natural to me. So for years, I told myself that I was set – I’m going to become a writer! It didn’t take long before someone approached me and told me the “reality” of how writing is a hobby and you can’t make a living.
With my dreams shattered, I began to panic and I thought “What the heck am I going to do now?”
A few years passed and a friend suggested that I submit some of my work to an online magazine. “You should try it!” a friend of mine told me. “Your work will definitely get it.” I immediately became nervous. What if I don’t get in? What if I get rejected?
The thought of my written work getting published made my heart scream with fear and joy so I took the leap and submitted. Then the day came when I got the email from the magazine saying: “We’re sorry but your submission will not be published in this month’s issue.”
I was distraught!
This was my first rejection of my written work and let me tell you…it hit me hard. Fear and doubt crept in immediately. I kept thinking maybe this isn’t for me and that writing is just a pipe dream. Suddenly while browsing the internet, I stumbled upon an interview from Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the best-selling novel Eat, Pray, Love.
During this interview she spoke about her writing process and how she was able to handle the fear:
“The real reason we don’t move creatively ahead is always and only fear. We’re afraid we don’t have the talent, it’s already been done better, or we’ll be rejected. Fear is a necessary companion because we need it to survive. However, anytime fear rises whenever I start a creative project, the first thing I do is say ‘Thank you so much for caring about me. But you’re services are not needed here.’ You can’t let fear have control over your creative choices.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
The fact that Gilbert, a best-selling author, still experiences fear just blew my mind. Then it dawned on me the reality of the situation.
We’re ALL fearful. The secret is how we work with fear.
We need fear in order to survive and to make sure that we live safely. So it’s not that we have to get rid of fear because that’s impossible. But how we talk to fear, how we make peace with fear, that’s the key!
I was terrified submitting my work and the moment that rejection email came through, fear blew up and said “This isn’t for you. You should quit”. But what good will that do? The rejection did suck but I can always try again. I can always learn and keep searching for ways of getting my work out there.
We’re not perfect humans and there will be times where we’ll encounter fear, failure, and disappointment. That’s just the nature of life. But know that when it comes to your dream to live life on your terms, don’t let fear dictate your worth.
Instead, look at fear in the face and say “Thank you, I appreciate you but I got this. So get in the back seat because I’m driving.”
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Til next time homies,