A new year. For many, a new resolution. For me, I do not resolve to place myself within a pressure cooker of cookie-cutter expectations. I have an admission to make. I’m terrified of success. I recently realized this fear. I also realized it’s fear is that keeps me focused on being successful at everything I do. Ironic, right?
In the past, I have sabotaged my success by succumbing to people’s opinion of what true success is or their appearance of having it all. From beauty to family, I have watched those people skyrocket in popularity and seemingly financial success. I convinced myself that if I followed their exact formulas I, too, would have the perfect success. These side-by-side comparisons caused me to become terrified of success. Doubt began to poison my self-confidence. I began to ask:
- What if my family relationships falter?
- What if I didn’t sell thousands of copies of my books?
- What if I don’t get a million followers on social media?
- What if I don’t meet a great guy, fall in love and get married?
Based on the aforementioned list, I am an absolute failure. I didn’t succeed at any of those ideologies and began to question whether I would ever be successful. I have been blessed with so many talents, which scares me greatly. For years, I have hidden my talents because of criticism received from those whom I thought cared for and loved me, from those whose opinions meant the world to me. My spirit was broken and shattered. Here are a few examples:
- At 9 years old, I began taking piano lessons. I practiced and practiced as I was determined to become a female version of Beethoven and Chopin. I continued to practice into my middle school years. When my piano teacher scheduled concerts, none of my family members attended including my parents. I stopped playing.
- I first picked up the clarinet in my 7th I practiced every chance I got mastering the clarinet by 8th grade and becoming the first chair in my middle school jazz band. Although I never had a family member attend any of my concerts, I continued to practice, moving up in the jazz band to become a soloist. Unfortunately, at 14, my clarinet was lost when my parents moved and they never replaced it. I couldn’t afford one, so I could no longer play.
- I was an excellent volleyball and basketball player, never missing practice. Again, I never had a family member attend my games. During my sophomore year, I was awarded medals for as the best rebounder in the state of California and received the patch to wear on my varsity athlete’s jacket. No family members attended the ceremony.
- Although married and with a 4-month old son, I graduated high school 6-months early; but my family didn’t believe me and wanted proof of a diploma. When my diploma arrived, some huffed and didn’t congratulate my accomplishment.
The lack of family encouragement and support began to weight heavy on my spirit. No matter how successful and talented I was, I never felt successful. I began to fear success. I began to realize that as I got close to finishing a major goal, I would panic, become irritable, and almost breakdown. I couldn’t understand why I became a nervous wreck towards the end of each successful milestone. Then, in 2013, I had an epiphany. I was terrified of success. I was terrified those closest to me wouldn’t care or support me. I didn’t want to enjoy my success alone anymore. I yearned for family cheerleaders. But . . .I refused to give up. I refused to let my fear of success stop my success.
It occurred to me that I was following the incorrect formula for success: other people’s success. Oddly, it’s fear of success was the key to my successes. It sounds weird, but it’s true. My fear of success keeps me focused on improving myself. My mind NEVER stops wandering into that creative space called imagination. I own my success as I have done all the hard work. I have a right to bask in the joys of my accomplishments. My talents belong to me. I’ve begun to practice piano again. I’ve begun to learn to play the guitar. I’ve even begun to sing again. The more I practice to better I become. I’ve also begun to appreciate the awesome woman I’ve become.
It’s great to have supporters. But in the end, I’m responsible for my success. Am I still afraid of success? Of course I am. Does that fear paralyze my creativity? NO! It’s that fear that keeps me engaged and focused to continually improve. Fear is my motivator. It’s ignites the fire within.