Recently my mother said something that caused me to stop and reflect on who I’ve become. We were talking about when I was young (before marriage and children) and she commented on how I was fearless. I wasn’t the one to dip my toe into the water and think about what I was jumping into. Instead, I got a running start and just jumped, learning how deep the pool was only after I was in it.
When you are young, you think you are invincible. Nothing can happen to you. You’ll live forever. When I was young I had the courage to be fearless.
When had that changed?
I suppose it was after grad school that the fear slowly started to creep in. I was living in southern California, surrounded by people with dreams. Not that Californians have cornered the market on dreams, by any means. But these were big crazy dreams, dreams of fame and fortune, of becoming movie stars, rock stars, overnight sensations. Dreams harder to fulfill, some would say they were long shots, which is what I imagine some of the people from my childhood thought of my aspirations to be a writer. And I began to wonder what if? I didn’t graduate with a book deal in hand. What if I never got a book deal? What if I spent my whole life pursuing something that I wasn’t any good at? What if I would always be a failure at the one thing I loved to do?
Cheryl, my best friend since practically birth, had gotten married and every time I saw her husband Vince, he would ask about my writing. I know he was being kind, trying to show interest in his wife’s friend, and maybe he was even a little curious about my writing dreams, him being an accountant and all. But I began to dread seeing him. And when he would ask, I would feel the blush forming on my cheeks and mumble something before quickly changing the subject. Eventually he stopped asking and I was relieved.
Some years later I got married. My husband, as he climbed the corporate ladder, would tell those that asked about me that I was a writer. “Don’t tell them that!” I would say, flinching at the very idea that even more people would be aware of my failure.
The funny thing is I don’t really have anything to base this idea of failure on. I don’t have thousands of rejection slips because I don’t send anything out. I don’t try because the fear of failure has stitched itself into my skin like an invisible tattoo, taken over my shadow to ensure we are never separated, whispered secretly, seductively in my ear.
But today I am digging my dusty Doc Maartens out of the back of my closet and crushing that fear into dust with my boot heel. And I’m starting to feel more like my old self again. My vivid, complicated, detailed dreams are back. The running dialogue in my head as I live my life has returned, the writer me is writing and rewriting the everyday me as if I am a character in a book. And it feels really good.
I have the courage to be fearless.
Will you follow along? When my confidence wavers, when I start to mumble, will you remind me fear is a four-letter word?
16 thoughts on “The Courage to be Fearless”
Thanks, Cheryl! I appreciate your support and encouragement. And good luck to you! See you around She Writes!
Hi Andrea! I know I am really late to the party here, but I just got on SheWrites after about six months and saw the link to this in the Self Publishers group. You could have written this for me. I was fearless in school and somehow lost my way as I became a “responsible adult.” I have only begun to call myself a writer out loud in the last year. I am also finally starting to follow my dream of becoming a published writer. Scary as hell, but also very exciting. I find I am not only scared of failure in this regard, but also scared of success. How weird is that?! 🙂 Anyway, thanks for this brave post!! Hope to see you around the SheWrites forums. I will be the one in the stands waving the “go, you!” banner!
Thanks, Amber! I appreciate your kind words! Thanks for visiting.
We writers are pretty tough on ourselves, aren’t we? I don’t know that I’ve ever been around a group of people so hesitant to call themselves what they really are (myself included). So, go you!! Excited to watch you move forward in your journey!
I really love this post Andrea. Because I also fight fear when it comes to writing – and I don’t even have any major aspirations of publishing a novel. Smaller aspirations perhaps that I hesitate to articulate. Just sitting down and writing honestly can be be a scary prospect for me and it does feel good every time I overcome the fear and get the words down on paper.
That’s exactly what it feels like. They’re finally getting old enough that I can breathe a bit and I can get back to the business of being me!
Awesome! And don’t you feel like it is just about now, in your children’s ages, when you can breathe easy again (or at least go to the bathroom by yourself!?) I have recently felt the same sort of awakening in me, my creative side. And I’m loving it-and trying to balance it with my family life at the same time. I laughed when you said you brushed off your Doc Maartens because I remember seeing those on your feet and thinking “cool!”
I’m rootin’ for ya, Andrea!!!
Thanks, Carmen. I appreciate your kind words.
A friend and I have a saying “What’s the worst they can say, no? It’s not like they can ground you!” Failure shouldn’t stop you from trying. Even if you are rejected no one can stop you from trying again. You are obviously gifted and passionate so I’d say you have half the battle won.
Hi Andrea. I enjoyed your post. Like the others, I followed you from SheWrites. You sound a lot like me. I am slowly referring to myself as a writer. My husband gets a big kick out of telling everyone I’m a writer and sometimes it shocks me to hear him say it. But I am a writer. I haven’t gotten anything published….yet. It’s right around the corner. I have taken the first step and entered a couple of writing contests. Winning the prize would be great, but just to see my work published in somebody’s publication would be awesome. Keep writing and send something out. You are fearless! You have supportive friends at She Writes, all rooting for you! You can do it.
Hi Andrea! I too followed you from She Writes. Great post!
Thanks, Kelly. I appreciate your encouragement!
Thank you, Connie. I appreciate your support! Good luck with your move…and with selling your house! Let me know when you get your blog up and running so I can support and encourage you!
Loved your post! I followed you here from SheWrites.
I’m right behind you as I need to start a blog. Sounds like WordPress is the way to go. Time is at a premium for me right now as we are getting ready to make a cross country move as soon as our house sells.
When I should be thinking of retirement…life handed my family a compelling story that is begging to be shared. Doesn’t seem to matter that I never dreamed of being a writer. Fear? I’ve got plenty, but there’s strength in numbers so I’ll be following along. 🙂
Loved your post!
I’m right behind you in that I need to start a blog. Although I may have to delay a bit as time is at a premium right now. Our house is on the market and we are getting ready to make a cross country move back to Colorado. Sounds like WordPress is the way to go.
At a time when I should be thinking of retirement life handed me a compelling story that begs to be shared. This seems daunting in that I never dreamed of being a writer. Fear…there is strength in numbers. Sending you thoughts of courage…I’ll be following your journey ~ Connie
Good for you! Don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer.