Fear when thinking big

I haven’t mentioned it before, but I’m taking an e-class with Tara about breaking through and telling my own story. Last week, part of our assignment was to list our fears, what we think might be holding us back. Coupled with Tara’s post about fear over on Scoutie Girl, the idea of fear has been on my mind the last few days.

My first instinct is to say I don’t have any fears to break through when telling my story like others do. That what I need is not necessarily a life cheerleader (though those are nice!), but a life editor to help me focus all my dreams and goals into one cohesive journey. But after reading Tara’s post about fear, I realized that’s not true.

My fear is not the fear of failure. It’s there, but I’ve failed at things before, so that particular fear is pretty tiny and easily ignored. That surprises me since I don’t have a solid Plan B if I walk away from Catie’s Blue today or tomorrow; I’ve put the last three years of my life into this business, spending waking moments working working working, and sleeping moments dreaming of new projects (true story – my entire Drop of Color series came from a dream). Do I want to succeed? Absolutely! But the fear of failure doesn’t hold me back.

No, my fear is of not living up to my potential and finding out that I’m not as good as I think I am.

My fear has led to me reading any crafty business post I can find, obsessing over techniques and how I can make them my own, straining to figure out how to be more financially sound, hurrying to find my place in a big artsy world. I think these manifestations are easy to understand (and something I think most small crafty business owners can relate to), but why am I so fixated on being good enough or better? Am I still looking for approval from peers, friends, family? I feel like I’ve been successful so far, but is that not enough? Truthfully, no. After I thought about it all weekend, I realized, that no, it’s not enough.

Before you think I’m incredibly arrogant or ungrateful, let me explain. I do feel grateful for every single order, every. single. one. But I have some pretty big dreams, and haven’t yet crossed off enough on my goal list. There’s still more to learn! There’s still more I can do. I can feel it, living inside me. I can’t ignore it because it has a really loud voice (and, strangely, sounds like every single person in my life who has had an influence on me, all at the same time). I think I’m always going to be looking for ways to improve, things I can do better, ways to grow. I don’t know that I can ever just settle, and I think that’s okay. I can be grateful and hungry at the same time, can’t I?

I’ve mentioned goals before, so let me add one more that I’ve had since last fall, something I haven’t shared with anyone yet: I want to write an ebook on color to help visual artists, but my fear has me thinking I might not be good enough to do it. Would anyone want to read it? What if it’s not as helpful as I think? This on top of worries like: Do sales equal validity? If I sell more, will I be more respected, more appealing as a jewelry designer? Will people like what I’m creating, or have I not yet gotten my story across?

I don’t have any concrete answers to those questions, just faith, gratitude, and a determination in spite of my fear. I’m going to own it, and name him Marco. As scary as it is for me to acknowledge Marco, and to share him here on my blog, I think it’s necessary to respect him as valid. The trick is not let his voice take over my brain and drown out my own.

Photos are from the amazing Lori Koop. Visit her site, www.lorikoop.com, for more information, or to sign up for her UpWords Newsletter.

11 Responses to Fear when thinking big

  1. Thanks for posting this today, I completely identify with the fear of not actually being as good as I think I am (or think I could be), I guess you just have to go for it and if people like (and ultimately buy or buy into) what you do that's a good start, right? (this is exactly what my 'When I grow up…' treasury is all about I guess)

  2. WOW…. it was like reading about me.

    I can take every single word you wrote and claim it as my own. I too have this feeling inside that I have so much more to give and that I'm not living up to my full potential. Especially dreary days at work. Why am I sitting here? I should be home creating!!

    And at the same time that annoying and nagging feeling… am I good enough?

    Thank you sweet Brandi for posting this. I'm going to noodle a lot more over this and try to find my own way.

    Beacause seriously – shuffling paper in an office just doesn't cut it any longer.

  3. Does anyone (except the super confident) ever feel they have reached their best or that their best is good enough?? I know its something I suffer with ~ sometimes I think I am one big fraud that my work just doesn't cut it ~ but my heart tells me to keep plodding onwards and upwards ~ at least non of us are alone lol 🙂

  4. I relate so much to this post Brandi. I have had this growing, nagging feeling my whole life. Trying different mediums. Each one I try I am pretty good at. Each time I learn something new I feel like I know I need to learn this because it will be apart of something bigger in the furture and what is that? I don't know. But now, now that has stopped. Now I am content with creating jewelry. But have I arrived? I don't know. I just know I HAVE to keep making what I make. I often ask my husband if I am kidding myself. Are my creations really good or am I like some of the people who try out for American Idol who truly believe they can sing but are rediculusly awful singers. Now I am rambling. You have touched a place I think many creative people fall into often.

  5. WOW…I thought for a moment somebody had stolen my thoughts and blogged about them..lol…
    I can relate to EVERYTHING. Every single word is so me…thank you..thank you for posting this..

  6. Thank you, ladies, for stopping by and commenting. I think this is a universal fear most creative people will feel at some point in time. It was easy to write, but tough to post, so I'm glad it was well received. 🙂

    As for something AK and Joanne touched on – I was never happy in an office. In fact, I was miserable. Once I started doing this, that weight lifted off. Yes, I'm poorer than I was before, and more financially unstable (but it's getting better). But I'm happier doing this than I ever was before. Quitting that office job was probably the best and single most terrifying thing I could have done.

  7. brandi, what a thought provoking post. i think the fear of not living up to my potential is something i feel often. i think i have that same drive to be the best i can possibly be and learn as much as i can possibly learn. maybe this is why we get along so well! 🙂 oh and i love the idea of writing the e-book. i say go for it!!!

  8. Ali – thanks! It's very, very rough yet, but the idea is all coming together.

    Wendy – Maybe! All my creative friends seem to have this same drive. Maybe we subconsciously surround myself with the same type of people?

  9. Thank you. You share many of my same struggles which include does money making equal valuable? Looking forward to taking the Flying Lessons e-course with you -Robin

  10. Hi Robin – I'm glad to have helped in some way. Thanks for stopping by – can't wait to take Flying Lessons with you!