Let’s Talk About Our Worst Fears

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Happy Halloween, everyone. It’s that time of year where our worst nightmares come alive before our eyes and we surround ourselves with everything that scares us most. We even take an odd sort of pleasure in it.

So let’s talk about my crippling fear of failure, shall we?

Tomorrow I am starting NaNoWriMo. (For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo takes place every November and participants try to complete the lofty goal of writing a whole novel in the span of one month). I’m doing this because I obviously have a death wish.

This is going to be extremely difficult. I have no doubt that I will be able to complete the 50,000 words, but that is not what I am worried about.

Mostly, I am worried that I won’t like those 50,000 words. I am worried that I will fail to write the story that I wanted to write — the story that has been living in my head for such a long time. I am worried that I won’t be able to do it justice. I am worried that no one will want to read it — that no one will care.

No, the number of words is not an issue. I fear failure in a different way.

You see, this is sort of how my life goes. I’m able to do all the things that other people do. I was able to get into college like all my friends did. I was able to audition for plays and write shows and even direct a couple of them. I was able to complete my 18 credit hours a semester with an (almost) 3.8 GPA. I was able to spend a semester across the pond. But all of my friends did all of those things, too. It doesn’t make me special.

I don’t fear that I won’t be able to succeed like everyone else. I fear that when it comes to the things that make me unique and special — my dreams — I’ll choke up. I fear that I’ll never pursue something that is entirely my own — something that will make me happy.

I fear wasting any more time floundering and doing nothing of consequence. I fear that the world that exists inside my head won’t compute with the world I live in. I fear that I will lose myself.

I don’t participate enough in things that terrify me. And that’s exactly what this month of novel-ing recklessly is about. I don’t even know if I can do it. I don’t even know if I will enjoy it. I don’t know if this will turn into something bigger or if it’s something I will abandon once I get it out of my system.

It’s this very uncertainty that always prevents me from doing anything.

Finding my way in the real world has been full of doubt. Sometimes I doubt my decision to give up my pursuit of theater before I even really started. I doubt my decision to move home despite how much I love the Twin Cities.  Were these choices made out of fear or did I make them because I knew those paths wouldn’t make me happy in the long run? Will I continue to make choices based on my fear of failure rather than what I believe will be best for my happiness?

This November, I am going to write a novel. I don’t know if the novel will ever see the light of day. Regardless, it is my hope that by the end, I’ll have a better understanding of my own passions and I’ll have more control over this fear of mine that has been so crippling.

Happy Halloween, everyone. Stay safe.

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