Nothing to Fear, But…

fear1Fear—perhaps the most scarring four-letter F-word in the English language. We let this emotion hold us back and stop us dead in our tracks. Quite often, fear deters our dreams and hinders our ambitions. Yet, while we may cower and hide, fear has the potential to jumpstart the journey toward overcoming obstacles and achieving success.

Just yesterday, I was a small child, dancing and singing all throughout my hairdresser’s beauty shop. With hairbrush in hand, I sang along to the radio, unafraid to jam with the likes of Madonna, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston. But, as I grew, my confidence and carefree ability to perform in front of all the customers dwindled and I became the shy, introverted girl who soon recoiled at the concept of an audience. To this day, that mentality has trickled over into my writing life, as I fear sharing much of my work with others and risking the chance of failure.

However, in looking back, I now wish to recover the innocent, fearless feeling of my younger days and embrace that freedom moving forward.

At the beginning of this year, I vowed to boost my writing habits and develop my personal goals, yet I rarely find the time to work on my own ideas. Of course, this doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing on a regular basis—work keeps me constantly acquainted with the written word. (See: Demystifying the Millennial Misconception.) However, I typically find myself avoiding my individual creative endeavors, at least as of late, for I’m worried that my talent is limited. I’m afraid I will be perceived as a hack that has no business in this business. I conjure up ideas but I neglect to follow through because I fear the moment when someone else’s eyes will see what’s on the page. Though I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to this nagging feeling holding me back, I do believe I must get back to sharing my personal words with others once again if I am to make my dreams come true.

The Harvard Business Review writes:

A good writer welcomes good edits. A bad writer resents them, seeing them only as personal attacks. Share your material while it’s still rough — the feedback will help you improve it much faster than if you were toiling in isolation. Routinely ask your colleagues, including those you supervise, to read your drafts and suggest changes. Have them mark up the document and submit their revisions in writing, rather than in person where you might react defensively. Always thank them for their help. Encourage others on your team to seek out edits and offer them. Having room to improve should be the norm, not a sign of weakness. (via TIME)

I must ignore the little devil that sits upon my shoulder, telling me I’m not good enough, and start listening to the angel that encourages me to keep on trying. I must learn to accept criticism, treating it as a constructive tools instead of a personal attack on my talent. I must look to others for help as I seek advice and suggestions to better my work and myself. Surely, this path may be hard to follow at first, for I have been conditioned to shun imperfection and concede defeat at the onset of failure, but I know that those I trust mean me no harm. If they wished to see me fail, they probably wouldn’t offer to help, and after all, success wouldn’t be any fun if we did everything alone.

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    • Peter Sweeney
    • June 9th, 2013

    Hi Anna,

    It’s a long-time fan of Smell the Roses Peter Sweeney writing you. I really enjoyed this piece – I feel that you really captured the trepidation that most writers (including me) experience when their work is “exposed”. Fear and hesitation are probably the two biggest obstacles we face in really believing in ourselves as writers. I’ve had the same “Am I good enough?” question pop into my mind with every poem/lyrics/story I write! Excellent article, and I think the quote from the H.B.R. only reinforces your writing.

    Keep it up!

    Pete

      • Anna Papachristos
      • June 10th, 2013

      Hi Pete,

      You have always been so supportive and encouraging! Very glad to have you as a fan. 🙂

      I suppose this fear is just one of the “perks” of the profession–one we have to constantly work through and overcome repeatedly, as it always creeps back up when least expected. But through it all, it’s great to have readers and friends like you pulling for me every step of the way!

      Thanks, my dear!

      Anna

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