Fear has many facets, and recently I discovered an unexpected one, which has taken a sneaky hold of my life. I’m not quite sure how to shake it, but naming it may be a good start, so here goes.
Not too long ago, I was reading an article on the psychology of procrastination. I should have been writing a blog, re-writing some edits, or collating my short-story collection, but no— I was reading articles about procrastination. It’s something I’ve been struggling with the last few weeks. I don’t feel like writing blogs. I don’t feel like composing tweets. I don’t feel like…well you get the picture!
Procrastination, the article asserts, is rooted in fear. This fear has two sides. Firstly, there is the fear of failure. Before we start something, we think of all the things that could go wrong. We want to do things so perfectly, that the thought of trying and failing makes us too anxious to start. I could relate to this, but it wasn’t a big surprise to me.
However, the second fear the article mentions, was very surprising. It was the fear of success. “For some the fear of success is a real trauma. If they succeed, they may feel exposed and people may expect more from them in the future, leading them to wonder: what if I can’t always deliver?”
It all made sense. My stretch of writer’s block follows from a small, but significant breakthrough in the publishing process. Being slightly closer to my dream of finding a publisher sent me into—what I now understand was—a slight tail spin. How strange that something I want with all my heart is also something I fear.
Once again, I am like Peter walking on the waves. All is wonderful until I think, “I shouldn’t be here—this isn’t going to end well.” Instead of looking at the One who made the wave walking possible, I start to look at the waves. Faith gives way to fear. Success ends in sinking. And I hear Jesus whispering, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Madeleine L’Engle talks about the courage we require. To create. To love. To live.
“In moments of decision, we are to try to make what seems to be the most loving, the most creative decision. We are not to play safe, to draw back out of fear. We are to…fall through the window, journey through the looking glass, return to the imaginative courage of the child. Dare I? Of course I don’t. But I’m going to anyhow because I have no choice.” (L’Engle, Walking on Water)
So, I named it, and you may have noticed that you are reading the first blog in close to a month, which means I might just be shaking it too! No more procrastination. No more holding back. I am moving ahead, fear or no fear!
What is holding you back?
Joan Campbell lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and two teenage daughters. Her first book, Encounters, is due to be released later this year. She is currently writing a young adult fantasy trilogy and devotionals for various publications, including Scripture Union and The Upper Room. She is a trainer for MAI in South Africa.