(For one of my class's final papers, we were allowed to write a piece of creative non-fiction, and I was really excited because this gave me complete freedom to write about whatever I wanted. Here is the piece that I ended up turning in.)
Fear is constant. Fear is also a liar. Fear is constantly trying to tell me that I am not capable, that I am not ready. For a while, it has been successful, but I am learning that I am more powerful than fear. I am learning that if I wait until I’m ready, then I will never start because there will always be a part of me that does not feel prepared. In order to make my dreams happen, I have to act upon them even though I’m afraid, even though I don’t feel ready.
Nothing in life can come to us without us going out on a limb, but fear tells us that trying something new will bring failure. Which it might. But failure doesn’t always have to be something to run away from. Failure can be what propels us to our breakthrough.
A lot of times, fear of failure keeps me from acting on my potential.
My mind becomes a burial ground for my dreams before they are even given the chance to be breathed to life. The culprits: You’re not ready, you need to build some more skills first. You’ve never done this before. What if no one even cares. All of the brands that people need and care about have already been created. There isn’t enough time. You don’t even know how to do this, if you try, it’s not gonna look good and people will only congratulate you out of pity. This is too hard, just let someone else do it. For years, I stay stuck in the same place. It’s not a bad place, it’s actually quite comfortable. I have close friends, I’m doing well in school, I am not falling victim to an eighth life crisis. I think I am thriving, but truly, I am just doing the bare minimum. Doing nothing terrible, but I could definitely be doing more. And I know it. Every once in a while, the vision creeps up on me again, like a puppy begging to be acknowledged and fed. I ignore it, not because I don’t want it, but because of fear. Negative thoughts fill the empty spaces of my mind and convince me to settle once again.
A change of perspective and mindset is what finally causes me to step out of my comfort zone. I notice my mentors and even peers rising to new levels. What we once fantasized about together has become their reality. I watch their dreams take form before me and stare at the desolate corner where I have dumped my own. Enough time has passed. I write down the millions of reasons why my goals are unachievable and realize that even if these statements are true, I am losing nothing. If things do not go as planned, my life will remain the same, and the same is how I am living currently. It can’t get any worse, but it may as well get better.
I construct a very informal list of goals and dreams for myself: Learn how to budget. Put aside distractions so that I can focus on what matters. Re-establish my greeting card business brand. Expand my creativity. Before I can change my mind, I send the list to my best friend. Now I am being held accountable, I can no longer pretend like my dreams do not exist. At first, I am not sure of how to expand my creativity, but I know it will involve doing something I have never done before. Doing something I have been too scared to do. Suddenly, I remember my idea to build a new website for myself. One that is the home for all of the creative things I do: blogging, poetry, greeting cards, graphic design, and whatever else I happen to make. To be cohesive with my Kards by Kae branding, I decide the website will be called Things by Kae. I write down my vision for this new project and put it aside, where it sits for a few more months due to my fleeting sense of motivation.
Once again the knell of, unfinishe...unstarted projects stirs me to actually accomplish what I said I would. It’s November, and the two year anniversary of Kards by Kae is approaching in a week, Tuesday the 6th. This is my deadline. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited about a project. So excited that I begin working on my mood board and design...in classes.
This process is void of fear. As of now, I am having fun. I am simply making designs and perfecting my website building skills. My work will not be judged. I will not be judged. No one will see if I mess up. If I end up not publishing, it’s no big deal. No one will know. Except my best friend. I know for a fact that if I back out, she will push me back out again. For this reason, I continue.
By late Sunday night, all of the pages, fonts, and visuals are to my liking. I’m less than 48 hours from launch day. I’m scared again. No longer is the fear rooted in my capability, but now it grows from the uncertainty of how the world will receive my hard work. How embarrassing it would be if my enthusiasm was met with disregard. I realize that this is not only an issue of fear, but also one of validation. Before the deprecating thoughts can settle in, I fill the spaces with positive affirmations. I don’t need to wait for validation in order to be great. I don’t need to wait for validation to know my work is beautiful. I don’t need to wait for validation. I don’t need to wait for validation. I don’t need to wait for validation.
Tuesday has finally come. I am anxious to publish my website, but I have told myself that I would wait until after class to do so. I arrive to the school parking lot earlier than usual. Just be patient just be patient just be. My hopeful chanting is no match for my excitement. I decide that it’s okay to just publish the website now. I open my laptop and go to the wix server. My anxiety is at an all time high. I navigate to the desktop. My mouse is now hovering over publish. This button is the only thing that separates me from remaining in fear or acting on my dreams. I have stopped breathing. My fingers are trembling. I begin counting. Three, wow this is really about to happen. Two, oh my God this is crazy. One. The mouse has been clicked. Wix congratulates me for publishing my website. I can’t believe what I’ve just done.
I am sitting in the car, relief is overwhelming me. I feel --- amazing. I have never been so proud of myself, and I can’t believe I almost let fear talk me out of taking this step. Within a few hours. People are congratulating me on my website. They tell me how my latest blog post inspired them and they thank me for being vulnerable. Not that I needed it, but hearing their affirmation is very encouraging.
I begin to think of all the other dreams that I have allowed to become victims of fear. This marks the end. The end of me doubting my abilities. The end of me letting lies keep me from reaching my potential. I know that fear will still try to creep up on me, but I will chase my dreams anyways. I will be afraid while I am running. I will learn on the way to my goals. I will no longer wait until I am ready.