I’ve been thinking about the fear of success a lot lately. I think can honestly say that I have quite a bit of this fear…in fact I’m kind of drowning in it.
I have all sorts of dreams and plans for my future and I want to make them come true. I want to find my way in the world and make a difference. Instead of making it happen I tend to just sit around and do little to nothing, instead of facing my fear and getting it done.
I’ve been asked several times what I would wish for if I had one wish and I could ask for absolutely anything. I wouldn’t ask for money, or beauty, or being skinny. Until now I’ve always answered it by saying I’d wish for the motivation and strength to do all the things I want. With enough motivation I could lose weight, I could work hard, I’d be successful…and it would all be mine, not just something given to me. Asking for money or weightloss would make me rich/skinny but I’d still have to live with myself and all my insecurities and fears…they are so much more debilitating than being overweight or broke.
Last night I realized that my problem isn’t lack of strength or motivation. I have those things, but they’re drowned out by my fear. If I were offered this one wish now, I’d ask for my fear to be taken away. It’s this fear of success that’s stopping me from really doing what I want to.
In the article I linked to at the top there are a few “symptoms” of a fear of success, such as procrastination, and negative thoughts and behaviours. I’m very familiar with these. Usually when I’m supposed to be working on my school work I put it off for hours, even days, and spend my time doing absolutely anything else. I’ll clean the kitchen from top to bottom rather than write an essay. I’ll watch movies/TV shows all evening until it’s too late to get any reading done. I’ll even procrastinate on going to bed because lack of sleep is an excuse to not get up and go to class. I’ll even sit at the library with the school books and papers right in front of me and spend hours putting together a stupid blog post on prank videos. :P
My fear is a mix of two things:
- it’s easier to fail because I didn’t do the work than it is to fail because I wasn’t good enough. It’s like I’ve spent a large part of my life fearing that I’m actually stupid/worthless after all, even though I have more than enough evidence to tell me it’s not true.
- my future plans are very intimidating. They involve lots of work, lots of responsibility and lots of challenges. If I don’t succeed I don’t have to worry about that. And yet, at the same time my fear of not succeeding, of being nobody, of letting myself and others down is equally paralyzing.
This tug of war between these two fears (of failing vs. succeeding) causes so much stress and strain that I have physical symptoms.
So where do I start to overcome these fears? I don’t believe this is just a personality trait. I don’t believe that it’s just that I’m lazy (I am lazy, just not this bad). I know this is a problem that can be overcome. I just don’t know how yet.
Even just writing this post is an act of procrastination. I have a paper due on Friday and I haven’t even begun working on it. Everyone procrastinates, but this is pathological.
Today I went to the University’s Counselling Service and made an appointment. I have somehow gotten away with giving in to my fears for too long now and I’m afraid that it won’t work much longer. So now I’m going to do something about it. Wish me luck?