Everyone has experienced fear. And fear comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It can be disguised as jealousy, envy or fake self-confidence. When we think of fear, we usually think it is related to something that is obviously scary -- such as sky diving (you would have to put a gun to my head and push me out of that plane before I would do that), bungee jumping (ditto), public speaking (haha I teach that, what does that say about me?) or losing a loved one (unfortunately most of us know what that feels like). But that's not the kind of fear I'm going to talk about in this blog. I want to talk about the not-so-obvious kind of fear. It's one that no one even really speaks about much. It's the fear of being jealous of yourself -- and your past successes.
I may not be making myself clear. Let's take some examples. Here's one: Michael Jackson. In death, I think he still holds the world record for the number of albums sold with Thriller. And we all know that the poor guy had some "issues" (why else would anyone get all that plastic surgery?). But I'm not here to say anything bad about the King of Pop. He was one-of-kind and a musical genius. What I am here to say about him is that allegedly (I read or heard about it from a very reliable source, I'm sure) ... allegedly ... he spent the rest of his life worrying that he could never reach that height success again like he did in his Thriller days. And guess what? He didn't. Does that mean he wasn't successful? Of course not! Just not as successful as he was with Thriller. But allegedly, that ate away at him and he kept chasing his Thriller days until his dying day.
Honestly, I had never really thought about that before (not Michael Jackson, just the concept of fearing yourself and your past success). I write a lot about following your dreams and having the courage to do it. But rarely do people talk about what happens after you achieve your dreams.
Several of my articles for a popular motivational website have gotten a lot of shares on social media (I hate to use the word "viral," because I don't know what number you need to make that claim. But it's somewhere in the 500,000-1,000,000 range). In my mind, I'm doing a little happy dance singing to myself "I've gone viral! I've gone viral!" Okay, I'm not really doing that. But I am kind of amazed and SO appreciative that people would share my words that many times. And that got me thinking...
What if my future articles can't match the success of these? What if this is 'it' for me???
Suddenly I felt like Michael Jackson.
And I also felt a little silly for thinking that, too.
But my line of thinking is probably not that different than a lot of other people's. You don't have to be a celebrity to fear that you've gone as far as you can go and that there's nowhere else to go but down. We all can feel that way from time to time. And it doesn't even have to be career-related. I think a lot of people have these thoughts when it comes to aging. I even wrote an article about that on another website.
Here's the take-away that I want to leave you with today. We need to stop fearing ourselves and our past. The past is the past. Dwelling on whether your next article will go viral (ha) or mourning when you were 50 pounds skinnier 10 years ago won't do us any good. We need to live in the NOW. We can't repeat the past. All we can do is look forward to the future.
Onward and Upward.
Or at least onward and sideways.
I think the "direction" is all a matter of perception anyway. If you think you're going "down," then you are. But if you reframe it, you will never go down, you will just move somewhere new.
So take some time this week so think about what you fear from your past. What do you dwell upon, and mourn, and fear that will never happen again? Once you discover it, let it go. Putting negative energy into it won't make it any better.
Here's a great quote from Picasso that pretty much sums up everything I just said:
"My old paintings no longer interest me. I'm much more curious about those I haven't done yet." -- Pablo Picasso, at age 79
Onward and Upward. Always...