Fear Has Stopped Me From Doing What I’m Passionate About

I’ve been writing for years. I do it for a living but it’s also a tool that has helped me so many times throughout my life. Whenever I was unwell, conflicted, or unable to process my emotions, I used to write.

When I was a teenager, I kept a diary (I’m a 90’s kid, so that means my teenage years’ best friends were Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, and Blink 192). As I grew older and life became busier, I would still journal here and there, and it has frankly allowed me to stay sane through many tough periods.

But now, I’ve been thinking of writing differently. What do I mean by that? I want to try writing outside my work scope and my journaling. So that means structured articles posted online to the whole world to see, signed under my name, done during my leisure time so I’m not earning any money from this.

I always thought I could do it, that I had what it takes. I mean, I’m intelligent (or so my mum and boyfriend say so), I can put together comprehensive sentences, and I’ve got a pretty good grasp of a bunch of subjects.

But I never did because I’ve never known what exactly to write about. Fear paralysed me. I’d ask myself a multitude of questions.

· What should I write about?

· Is this good material?

· How can I make this last?

· Why would anyone even read what I have to say?

· Worse … What if no one reads it?

· What if I make a fool out of myself?

I’ve also compared myself to other content creators. It’s a tendency I have, and I believe I’m not the only one. As a content manager, I work with editorial projects in fields such as e-commerce, marketing, and technology such as blockchain and crypto. This means I do a lot of research to be up to date on topics, projects, products, and news. So I read a lot.

I’m signed up for my Medium newsletters and at least a dozen other ones that bring me content from a wide range of subjects and industries on a daily and weekly basis. Basically, I am surrounded by content. Which is pretty normal since I work with content, right?

I compare myself to others without even starting.

In my mind, I’m doing a benchmark to see what’s out there and hope to get some inspiration sent from up above. Then I end up spiralling under the weight of questions and self-doubt.

But the truth is, I’m surrounded by great, inspiring content and it scares me.

I tell myself that before I start I should figure out at least the main topic of interest and the first five article themes. This way I’m not setting up to failure, I have at least a plan. I should then perform a thorough benchmarking of the decided topic to identify if there a gap I can fill. Then I should figure out how much time I need to dedicate to this, so then set up a timeline so I can start monetizing this. Here I make a mental note to read the many guides on how to do this.

But then…

What if it sucks? What if I suck?

Do I even have or know anything worth writing?

What if I taint my reputation as a journalist and as a content manager?

Should I leverage social media to relay my articles?

And if I do, should I use my personal account or create a new one?

The result? I’ve never gone ahead with this plan. I get stuck in the first step: deciding which big topics I should concentrate it. The environment? Technology? Self-help? Sometimes I feel like my head will explode.

I set myself up for failure every time I let myself be consumed by the shoulds and shouldn’ts, by the fear of not being good enough, or of being ridiculed.

I am assuming that my readers will judge my writing negatively. But how can I know that I’m not good enough — or that my work is worth being read — if I don’t even start? I am already judging the outcome before it even happens.

Fear of not being good enough paralysed me.

Here, “good enough” is a concept created by me for me. I’m the only one stopping myself. This got me wondering what else has it (fear) stopped me from doing.

I’ve been giving myself fake starts, living in a permanent state of “what if”, hiding in the comfort of my dreams. There are probably a bunch of projects I didn’t take forward because I sabotaged myself.

I know for a fact I’ve got a couple of online courses I bought and never started, or started and stopped halfway. There are materials that I bought, used, and then abandoned because I deemed I wasn’t good enough.

I now realize that I need to be responsible to, first, acknowledge my behaviour and secondly, reverse it and act.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

I know I’m not the only one in this situation.

I see posts on LinkedIn by growth hackers that talk about putting themselves out there, illustrating how they started and how far they’ve come. I also see motivational posts on other platforms praising individuality, entrepreneurism, courage, self-knowledge, growing out of our comfort zone, thinking outside the box…etc.

If there’s content being consistently created about this, it’s because there’s a need. This goes to show two things.

First, social media is the battling ground for many entrepreneurs trying to make it out there, so I guess it’s normal to find a lot of motivational content. Second, there’s a big need to put things in perspective.

I don’t plan on opening up a debate about how social media should be consumed and the potential harmful effect it can have on young minds. That would mean neglecting the powerful impact it has had across the world by giving force to movements such as the Arab spring, Me Too, the demystification of the supermodel body, and the important movement around body dysmorphia, self love, and much more. I don’t pretend to do that.

What I mean about putting things into perspective is this: I’ve been showered by a multitude of motivational posts — let’s call it like that for now — and they all prone to action. This made me realize that I only follow those that have done something or are doing something.

It says more about myself than anything else. I want to do something as well; it’s undeniable. It has motivated me since I was young, this will to “do something”.

But without realising it, I’ve been giving space to those that do instead of allowing myself to act.

Has it stopped me from doing other things in the past? Probably. I could have done this earlier. Or I could have gone to med school instead of journalism. I could have pursued my interest in graphic design and become an illustrator. So. Many. Options. So. Many. What. Ifs.

What’s done is done. I’ll take all that deep stuff to my next session with my therapist.

Now, I’m going to give it a try.

I am not going to unleash the Project Manager inside of me and draft an entire editorial strategy for this. No. I have a vague idea of where I’m going, I’m not entirely sure yet. But I’ve decided that there’s beauty in that and I’m going to follow my instincts.

I’m taking a leap and putting myself out there. What’s the worst that can happen? Nobody will read this, or someone will find a typo and discredit my work. Either way, I’ll keep writing. Learning and trying.

Or, one person will read this and be inspired to do. To act. To start that project they’ve been postponing, or to press enter and send that portfolio they weren’t so sure about.

Because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that falters in the face of the uncertain. Fear is within all of us, it’s our companion whether we want it or not. It’s what we do with it that makes us, us.

My boyfriend says that I’ll never know until I try. So let’s do it.

Oh, and I decided to create a new Twitter account so you can follow me there. I have a special kind of humour — so humour me this and click to find out the back-story that made me press enter.

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Laisa Lopes

Laisa Lopes

1 Follower

Brazilian living in Paris, passionate about writing, reading and searching for answers to tough questions. Let’s talk and share!