I've always been full of ideas. I've dreamt up too many Etsy shops, coffee houses, magazines, crafts, and stories to count.
But if you know me, you know that I do not have an Etsy shop. Nor do I run a coffee house or a magazine. Despite being a multi-passionate idea machine, allowing those ideas to have wings of their own and live outside of my head has been my greatest creative challenge.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit why this happens. But, I have a feeling I'm not alone in this struggle, so here goes.
Two things pop up whenever an idea gets my blood pumping. First, I start talking it up, journaling about it, researching it, and then BOOM. Self doubt.
Self-doubt can be such a cozy place to hang out. Right when I'm all fired up and about to take action, I think, It will probably never work anyway, or It will suck, or It's far beyond my means, or whatever. I think all these things to myself and then I think about going to get gelato.
And getting gelato seems a heck of a lot nicer than starting something that's bound to fail. So, I figure I might as well forget about it and focus on more attainable goals like, getting to the gelato shop before it closes. And that idea of mine? Well, there will be other, better, more attainable ideas. I'll just sit and eat my stracciatella while I wait for those ideas to find me.
But let's just say I've conquered my self-doubt and I'm ready to do something exciting, ready to follow my passion. Then comes the next hurdle. BOOM. Fear. Now I've got a whole different issue to deal with.
Oh, fear. You're such a pain in the tush.
As if overcoming my self-doubts weren't hard enough. Now I have to look fear in the face and say, Screw you? Most of the time, I'd rather not.
One passion of mine that has never subsided is my desire to write. I started blogging several years ago. I didn't know what I was doing. I just got on the computer and wrote stuff. Then I'd get distracted or lose interest and shut the site down. After a bit, I'd see what other people were doing on their blogs, get inspired and start another one. And so on.
The thing that always pushes me to abandon blogging (or any writing endeavor for that matter), is fear.
A few fears that have stopped me cold in the past:
- What if no one reads what I write?
- What if no one cares?
- What if someone reads what I write?
- What if I offend someone?
- What if they send me hate mail?
- What if I write something so preposterous that it is shared on social media just so people can laugh at me?
- What if I write and write and write and it never gets me anywhere?
- What if...?
In July, after taking a year off when my son was born, I began writing again. I was ready to get back to the page. Like, super ready. Like itchy get-out-of-my-way-'cause-I've-got-something-to-say ready.
Did fear stop me? Yeah. It totally did. It stopped me, and then I looked right at it and kept going.
I could have been totally paralyzed by fear. Like many times in the past, I could have just sat down and abandoned the thing I wanted to do most. But I didn't.
This time I was more fearful of what would happen if I stopped.
Instead of ticking off all the what-ifs that might happen if I kept writing, I looked at the what-ifs that might happen if I didn't. And they were a heck of a lot worse than any imagined hate-mail.
- What if my son finds my writing someday and asks me why I stopped?
- What if I tell him to follow his passions and he asks me why I quit mine?
- What if I make up excuses like, I was busy taking care of you?
- What if he tells me I should have kept writing?
The thought of being a failure in my son's eyes is so much scarier than anything I could possibly imagine. So, I keep on writing.
I keep on writing because it would be harder to stop than to continue.
Realizing this has forced me to look right at fear, to completely acknowledge it, to even entertain it. I believe that when we are really honest with ourselves about our fears, we can use them as fuel for following our passions. We have to see what we're scared of and then find what we're even more scared of. We'll get nowhere in life by avoiding fear. The only way to move past it is to look at it, walk into it, and acknowledge every dark corner of it. We have to go there before we can get anywhere.
Think about the things you want to try, the ideas you'd like to explore, or the paths you'd like to follow. I'm sure some fears have already popped up. Acknowledge them. Ask yourself, what are you afraid would happen if you let your curiosity guide you? Now, what are you afraid would happen if you didn't? This is where we find the good stuff - the motivation to keep going.
This blog post was originally published on WritingInBold.com, where you can find more writing by Jazmine Aluma.
Image by Death to the Stock Photo