How much do you want it?
Fear is a real and present danger in any art business. It shows up daily with its insidious hooks and terrible self talk.
You’re not good enough…. it hisses.
Everyone is better than you… it whispers.
Who do you think you are…. it demands.
And more. I know. So much more. That slithering fear makes you quiver when you post online. It works hard to defeat you with a wave of perfectionism when you pull your portfolio together. It insists that you’re too ugly or too awkward to even think about going live on video.
It tells you to sit down, shut up and make it a sandwich when you go to step out of your comfort zone.
But what does listening to fear get you in the end? A big, fat nothing.
Well, that’s not entirely true. You do get a few things, non returnable of course, when you hang out with fear. You get a half-assed art career, self sabotage and a healthy dose of perfectionism.
So, I want to say right now, I hear you. I get this. I lived this my own damn self, holding back my own art career for twenty years because I was afraid. And I didn’t want that career enough.
This is the point that makes the difference: how much do you want your success?
I wanted to be a published writer so much, I lived with fear on a daily basis for two years while I was writing my book. Leaning hard on my coach when I literally couldn’t type because I was afraid. But I wanted it, I could taste it: a book with my name on it and actual words in the right order, on the inside.
How much do you want your art or creative career? However you define your idea of success, you have to decide how much you want it because you need to want it more than you need to stay safe.
Fear never goes away. It doesn’t. But you can learn to use it right.
Fear is a barometer of the things you should do. If you get the opportunity to do something that makes you afraid in the moment, this is a sign that you should do it.
See, fear shows you the edges of your comfort zone. The box we all live in, where things are warm and safe and predictable, has edges. Stay within them and it’s all pop tarts and comfy jimjams all day long.
But a diet of pop tarts and wearing only jimjams, will make you fat and slow. More of the same doesn’t stretch you or cause you to grow in the right ways. And before you know it, your pop tart filled life is at its end and you haven’t done the things you really wanted to do.
You want to stretch and be uncomfortable. Growth starts in the discomfort zone! We are supposed to be uncomfortable. That’s how we find out what we’re made of (not just goo but strength of character) and how amazing we actually are!
Before May 6, 1954 there wasn’t a single human alive who could run a mile under four minutes. Not one. It was considered to be the unbreakable record and decided by the minds of the day that it would never be done.
On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister ran that mile and squeaked in just under the time. The dude wanted it so much. He trained for it and fucking did it. Shortly after he beat the record, other people started doing it too. The record lasted 46 days and then runner after runner beat it.
So what does that have to do with fear?
If you haven’t already done so, go out and find yourself some mentors. Find the people who are already successful doing the things you want. Don’t just go for the big names, go for the people who are only a few years ahead of you. Ones that are lighting the way.
Because when it comes to working with fear, wobbles happen. Sometimes fear goes from whispering to screaming. And when that happens, having your own Roger Bannisters to emulate and follow, will help.
You can have the success and following you want. You can have raving fans who cheer you on when you share your work and show up online or in person. You can have everything you want. You just have to want it more than you want to stay safe.
Get out. Get making. Get sharing. Own your life. You only have one. What are you going to do with it?