desk with lamp and stationery in modern apartment

Are you Afraid of Success?

It’s what we’re all reaching for: success. It’s why we make goals, why we #hustle everything, why we need the fancy desk because we’re all going to be #bossbabes. Sorry, I cringed when I wrote out that hashtag, probably as hard as you cringed reading it. Whatever you call yourself (hey, maybe just boss instead of boss babe?), you’re gearing up for success. It doesn’t matter what success looks like to you. 

Except, what if you keep stopping yourself? What if you make out all of these plans, plan out all of these goals, start working on them, and then just run head first into a wall? This keeps happening to me, time and time again. I feel great, I do great, I’m chugging along and eating up those goals like Ms. Pacman on a bender. And, then I stop. Something inside of me stops me before I can go further. I claim it to be laziness, but I’ve gotten this far with my laziness, so why can’t I go a few extra steps? A week behind schedule is just fine, right?

Not when that week turns into two. Then, turns into a month. Then, turns into a year — or more. If you’re continuing with other activities, other projects and hobbies, then it’s not laziness that’s keeping you rooted to the spot, it has to be something else. Are you afraid of success? I sure as fuck am. 

We scream at the top of our lungs, happy and joyous for anyone meeting their goals. We hammer home how important it is to keep to-do lists, to check up on them every so often, make sure you’re still on track. We tell everyone that tweaking goals is essential to growing. It’s what we all want, what we all aim for, but it can seem daunting to actually make it. To be a success. To reach those goals and dreams you dreamed up long ago. 

If there’s one more thing you could be doing to reach your goals, to get you closer to your dreams so that you can snatch them out of the sky, would you actually do it? What’s stopping you from going that extra mile, or hell, even a few steps? You’ve come this far, so what gives? The fear of failure far outweighs the fear of success. Because, isn’t that why we’re afraid of success in the first place? We’re all just afraid we’re going to go for it and fail?

We probably will fail. We will fail a time or two, as only the Chosen Few don’t. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make mistakes. All you have to do is get up, brush the dirt off your knees and go around that mistake. It can take years and many mistakes to make it to where you want to be, and that’s okay. It’s okay to take our time and learn and grow. It’s okay to be vulnerable and put ourselves out there, even as we worry that people will laugh and point and judge us as we make these mistakes. It feels like the whole world will be laughing when you declare your dreams and they declare them a pipe dream, rolling their eyes in your face. It will feel like you’re being cut down before your prime, before you get to even move towards your prime, and if you stay where you are, that’s exactly what will happen to you. 

Having a simple life is well and good. I yearn for a simple life. A simple life full of lavish vacations and a killer wardrobe, and delicious food, but a simple…ish life nonetheless. Wanting to stay where you are because you like where you are is so different from staying rooted to the gound because you are too afraid to move. 

I’m not sure how I’ll work past this success fear of mine. Perhaps, I’ll go at it a day at a time, a small goal at a time, going a little slower than anticipated, but moving in the right direction. That hasn’t really been working for me all these years, though. Maybe it all comes down to self-love and realizing that you’re worth the sacrifices you sometimes have to make, that you’re worth chasing your dreams and being happy. Maybe you have to ignore the end goal and just keep working until you stumble upon it one morning. Most likely, it’s all of the above. 

I know that I’ll still be afraid, afraid to push myself to the next level, afraid of what comes next. What if I become too successful and turn into an asshole? What if I make it and realize that I’ve made a horrible mistake? What if there is too much change and, being someone who can’t handle change, I become anxious and too stressed to enjoy my success? These are all too many ‘what ifs’ with far too many variables. There’s no way I can control all of them, no matter how hard I try. 

I’ve still felt success, even though I’m not successful in the grand scheme of things, even though I’m not successful in the eyes of the world. I felt that success when one of my favourite writers commented on my work. When I made my first penny (literally pennies) on my work. When a stranger got excited about the ideas I put out there. Those are all successes, and I came through unscathed. I made it. Perhaps it’s about time I let go of all of these silly ‘what ifs’ and think of my big goals as the same as those stepping stones to get there: a success I can handle. 

Is your fear of success holding you back from your full potential? | The LT Edit

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