No, I didn’t get a bunch of new tattoos. This isn’t a photo of me, but I really love the message on the mug in this photo. Because this week I did something scary.
A few weeks ago I was contacted about doing a freelance piece for a publication on a topic I love. I was excited and after I signed on, I looked up the journal to get more information. The style of the publication is more academic than I’m used to these days and I felt….intimidated.
Other contributors were writers I really admire and who are way out of my league. And I don’t say that out of false humility–like, they’re truly out of my league. REAL academics with many letters after their names.
I got really scared.
Here’s some of the thoughts I had running through my head:
–Did they think I was someone else when they asked me to write this?
–Will they reject my piece because it’s not good enough?
–If they publish it, will it get torn apart?
–Will everyone who reads it think, “this girl quit grad school to have more babies and IT SHOWS”? Or “Who does she think she is? She doesn’t belong here”?
But I wrote the piece. And while I was struggling through it at a coffee shop I told a friend about the project and how very out of my comfort zone it was.
“I haven’t written anything like this in years.”
She said, “I love that you’re doing something scary! It’s really good to make ourselves do scary things.”
And I remembered that my friend Jen Fulwiler had just done her first stand up comedy gig just for the heck of it last week. Was she terrified? Yes! But it’s good to try things that scare us. It’s good to do things that we might fail at.
When I vocalized my fears, they sounded a little silly. Not entirely far-fetched, of course. It was definitely possible my piece would get rejected. It’s possible that I’ll obviously be out of my league. But….who cares?
If someone makes fun of me for quitting grad school to spend more time with my babies and getting rusty on my academic writing…is it the end of the world? No, it’s really not.
And honestly, I’ve been a lot less afraid of life in general since becoming a mother. There’s something about carrying a tiny human and pushing him/her out of your body that makes you think, “hey! I can do hard stuff!”
I remember birthing my firstborn and then feeling like I could conquer the world. I’ve always been a people pleaser, but after his birth I just didn’t care as much about what other people thought. Any haters I had just didn’t bother me the same way. I GREW A PERSON and I felt pretty badass. As I stare down another delivery for our 4th baby in a few weeks time, sending over a freelance piece I’m nervous about seems a lot less of a big deal.
So I want to keep doing scary things, things I’m scared to fail at. I don’t want to let fear keep me in my comfort zone. Regardless of how this piece is received, the process will make me a better writer. I’ll learn something.
An obsessive fear of failure can be a form of pride: “I don’t want to be the sort of person who fails–I’m above that.” Well, news flash. We’re not above failure! It’s just part of the process. I’m gonna fail sometimes. And that’s okay! It doesn’t make me unworthy or stupid, it just makes me human.
The piece I was worried about wasn’t rejected. Who knows if it will get good or bad feedback once it’s published? But either way, I’m glad I wrote it.
So pick something out of your comfort zone to tackle. Refuse to be deterred by the voices in your head telling you you’re not good enough or people will mock you or whatever the case may be. Because so what? Do the scary thing. Do the hard thing. It might totally bomb or it might go great. But either way, I think you win.