I’ve only just recently realised how much of my life is influenced by fear.
I don’t mean the I-can’t-leave-the-house-because-the-world-will-end kind, but just a general background hum that rears its head when it’s time to try something new or different, when I dare to think about taking some sort of risk.
In a way, this fear is more destructive because it isn’t as obvious. It took me a long time to recognise it for what it actually is, because it has many disguises: discomfort, procrastination, perfectionism, busyness, uncertainty… these are just fancy names for fear.
I recently saw John Marsden speak at the Auckland Writers Festival, and he said:
What you are afraid to look at has power over you. What you confront loses its power.
So I decided to examine my fears in more detail through journaling. Turns out I’m afraid of a lot of things, but one thing that kept coming up was regret. I’m afraid of feeling regret for things I’ve done – or, more so, not done. Which of course ties into the famous words of Mark Twain:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.
So, yes, fearful of regretting not doing things with my life. But, ironically, also very fearful about trying new things and ‘sailing away from the safe harbour’. Just fearful all round, it would seem.
Creativity is often accompanied by fear. It’s the feeling of being exposed, vulnerable. It’s doing something new. It’s taking a risk. Starting this blog has been a slow process. Often, I’ve let fear get the better of me. I’ve been fighting my old enemies of perfectionism and procrastination the whole way.
But a friend of mine once told me to think of the feelings of discomfort when doing something new as a good sign – a sign you’re on the right track. If it didn’t feel a bit uncomfortable then it wouldn’t be new, I wouldn’t be growing. So I must really be stretching myself here! And some days, of course, I just stay in bed with a cup of tea.