This is part 1 in a 2-part series on Fear. Today I’d like to share with you a fear of mine and the story of how I overcame it and went on to accomplish something I thought I never could. Tomorrow’s post will include tips on how to overcome your own fears. Please check back in for that.
I would say that my biggest fear is a fear of failure. I don’t like how I feel when I don’t meet my own expectations or the expectations of others. I’ve always been my own worst critic. In the past, if I didn’t meet my expectations I would beat myself up over it and sometimes go as far as to end up in a depression.
I have always considered myself a writer. I started writing poetry about the age of 15, sharing them over the years with anyone who would read them. I had some disappointment from time to time but almost everyone I shared them with strengthened my beliefs that I was a great writer.
I eventually gained enough confidence to send my poems off to a great number of poetry contests and publishers and received an almost equal number of rejection letters. The rejection was devastating. I stopped sharing my poetry as often because I started to believe that even those who supported me in the past would start to reject my efforts as did the professionals who were reviewing them. I didn’t want to feel like I was not good at something I loved so much. I took the rejections personally and I let the pain of it get to me. Over time, I stopped writing. I feared those feelings and did not want to revisit them.
When my children were young teens I found that binder of collected poems that I had written since I was a teen and tried typing them in to save them so I could share them with my children and one day, my grandchildren. I would get approximately 10 poems entered into the computer and just stop. I didn’t feel that it was worth it. I did not have enough faith in myself to believe that anyone would even care to read them. I started having the feelings I felt after I received those rejection letters. I put the binder away as well as my desire to see them published. I decided that without the desire, there would be no pain.
A few years later the binder showed up in my son’s room. I’m not sure if he had been reading them or not. The vision came again so clearly, as if a force was pushing me. I thought I’d try to type them in again. I would envision having them all typed in and submitting them to a publisher, waiting several months to receive a rejection letter and have to start all over again. Those thoughts stopped me in my tracks.
One night, about a year ago, I made last minute plans with a friend to go out to dinner. We sat across from each other and talked for more than an hour and half about everything, just getting caught up. One thing she mentioned was her friend’s accomplishment in one of her college courses. Her friend had been going for her degree for business in preparation to open her own bakery. One of the class assignments was to create a manual to submit to a bank to obtain financing. My friend had helped her by having it printed and bound. The wheels started turning. I felt everything from envy to desire to accomplish this myself.
Stephanie showed me the book. I felt extreme pride for the woman I barely knew who had created it. It was in that moment I decided that no matter what it took, I would see those poems in print. My parents, children and generations to come would see them in print. Enough was enough. I was going to conquer this fear that no longer served a purpose for me.
Every spare moment for the next several days was spent searching the internet for a website where I could self-publish my poetry book. Once I found the perfect website, the fear kicked in again. “What if I can’t do this? I’ve tried so many times to get this done and have never been able to. I don’t want to feel that disappointment again.” I had a couple days of doubt but did not lose my desire. I had dreams at night about finishing it this time.
My thoughts were so focused on accomplishing this. It seemed to take up a great deal of space in my mind each day. I kept seeing that book in my hand, fully printed and sharing it with people I cared about.
One day, on the way to work I realized the perfect way to get the poems entered quickly. I would speak them as a voice message on my phone as a text and send it to my e-mail. This would save a great deal of time compared to typing them into the computer.
I spent my lunch hours for about a week and a half in my car reading all 90 poems aloud into my phone. In no time I had my ISBN from Lulu.com, the poems were entered, formatted and edited. I couldn’t stop. As soon as those old fears of failure kicked in, I shut them out and went to work, all the while keeping the idea of that finished product in my head. I finished with the creation of the cover.
A few weeks later I received my first copies of the beautiful book I had written. Friends bought them to kick it off and that book is now available to the public at Amazon.com. I called it, “Heart Versus Mind: Words That Touch Your Heart.”
I have not yet seen the success I have defined in my head but it has not stopped me. I realized that I needed to conquer that fear in order to move forward. I have renewed my confidence in my writing and, here we are today with you reading the results of that conquered fear of failure in my new blog. There are several other book titles I have in mind and will write and now I know that I can accomplish it.
I beat that fear by telling myself that if someone else accomplished it, I could too, and I would. I decided to believe in myself and dig deep to keep the confidence. I was fortunate to have support from many friends. As I was in the preparation stages I shared my excitement on FaceBook and it became contagious. I have never felt so alive.
Imagine what you could accomplish if you removed a fear of yours and started to believe in yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to believe in you. Sure, it’s a great feeling but don’t wait for other people’s approval. It’s up to you. It’s your accomplishment, not theirs. You are the one who will reap the benefits of the positive emotions your success will provide.
Do you have fears that you have overcome? Once you did, did you find the confidence to go on to accomplish other things? Please feel free to share them below.
Tomorrow’s post will offer some tips on how to conquer your fears. I hope you will come back to check it out. It is already written and I can tell you with confidence that it will inspire you to reconsider your fears and start moving forward without them.