The Journey – Part Four: The Fear of Success

The Journey feature this week reflects on the moment I came to terms with the possibility of success and whether or not I was truly ready to embrace it.

This next post was originally posted to Success in the City on March 16, 2015. It’s hard to believe it was just a few months ago that I was sending in the final manuscript submission for Insane Roots!

As you will see there was quite a bit of procrastination happening on my end. At first I didn’t understand exactly why I was having such a hard time taking the next big step in the publishing process, but I soon realized that my actions were stemming not from the fear of failure, but rather the fear of success. It was a nice moment to reflect on. I hope you find it entertaining.

The Fear of Success

Originally Posted: March 16, 2015

I received my final manuscript back from my editor this weekend! The only thing left for me to do would be to make some minor changes and send it to the publisher. I had the whole weekend to do a task that would literally take less than an hour and could possibly change my life. So why didn’t I do it?

I spent the entire weekend thinking about doing it and I even sat down at the computer with the file open and every intention on completing it, but instead I made plans to immerse myself in a slew of lovely distractions. I reasoned with myself that I should enjoy the 1st warm weekend in months and get myself out of the house. After all, I could always do it on Sunday night.

So, I spent Saturday exploring the city and at night, I avoided my computer like the plague. Deciding to reorganize my room, explore raw food recipes and daydream about where my life would be after the book is published.

On Sunday, the temperatures were estimated to hit 80 degrees. I decided it was a perfect day to check out the Zoo. One of my other passions (that I have set aside for many years) is photography. When I lived in Seattle, it was rare to see me without a camera in my hands. My friend Krista (a very talented photographer) and I would go on adventures around the city, pretending to be tourists and spend the whole day trying to capture that one beautiful shot! One of our favorite places to do this was the zoo, so I figured what was a better way to reconnect myself with this pastime than to do just that. Only this time, I would spend the day at the Denver Zoo rather than the Seattle Zoo.

I woke up bright and early yesterday, grabbed my gear and jumped on the bus! I made it to the zoo entrance just as it was opening. I was surrounded by families and groups of excited children struggling with their parents to put sunscreen on before they entered the zoo. Something I should  have done myself, but did not.

I explored the grounds until around two in the afternoon, when my roommate called and asked if I was still interested in running those errands we talked about the day before. Great, another distraction! I made my way to the exit, ordering a Frappuccino on the way out, and started the 18 minute walk to the bus stop. The bus arrived within minutes, which was great considering I had not joined in the ritual of putting sun screen on like the other families did before entering the zoo and I was starting to feel the burn!

My roommate reminded me yesterday that we are in the Mile High City, hence closer to the sun…I think I will be sure to make use of the sunscreen next time!

Anyway, we ran our errands and didn’t get back to the apartment until after 7:30 PM. I decided that it was too late to start on the manuscript and besides, the Walking Dead was on and that is pretty much my favorite show, what better reason did I need to push the publishing venture off on to another day?!

As the day drew to an end and I lay in my room (now neatly organized as the result of a weekend’s worth of procrastination) waiting for sleep, I began to try to rationalized my behavior. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I was aware at an early age that this may be an unreachable goal, but I never gave up. I took the advice of my mentors and pursued a “more promising” education in psychology and I even went as far as earning the degree, but I never put the fantasy of someday publishing my very own book out of my mind. Now that this has become reality, why was it so hard for me to move forward?

The most obvious reason, is that by publishing a memoir (if one does so honestly as I have), I am really putting myself out there. In the pages of this book, I recount the events of my early childhood and there are many stories and feelings in this book that I have not even openly discussed with many of the people in my life. So there is that, but I still can not see this as the only source of my procrastination.

I know I hold a certain amount of anxiety about the criticism that I may face from those who are not pleased with the book and the fact that my mother has no idea the book is coming out, but I have readied myself for that, so again that can not be it…

On the way in to work this morning I asked myself very bluntly, “What is your problem? Your lifelong dream is right in front of you and you’re ignoring it. Come on Tiffany, get with the picture here!”

As I write to you now, I think I have finally figured it out. I am not procrastinating due to the fear of failure, but rather the fear of success. I am not afraid of nobody buying the book or someone buying it and hating it. I am terrified of everyone buying the book and loving it. Sounds silly right?

I am a simple person, living a very simple life. I have never had riches (quite the opposite actually). I have never known success and the idea of it scares me. I have been told that if the book is a hit, I may be asked to do radio interviews and local television…What?! I have social anxiety just going out on the town by myself, let alone being the center of attention of hundreds of people…Yikes!

But is this not the desired outcome? My dream is to inspire and my hope is that this memoir (and the resulting memoir series if it takes off) will do just that. It seems very silly to be afraid of something you truly desire. Truth be told, regardless of my fear of it, I want success. I want to be able to share my message and inspiration with others. Therefore, I have made a promise to myself that tonight the procrastination is over. When I return home, I will not allow myself to do anything until I send in the final submission of the manuscript. This is a time to celebrate, not hesitate.

Besides, there is a chance that success will not find me after the book hits the shelves and will I not then find myself disappointed? Of ‘Course I will. However not as disappointed as I would be in myself if I didn’t bother to try. I must overcome this self-doubt and rise to the occasion. I have been given an amazing opportunity and I will not procrastinate it away!!

May you all be inspired today to take a step forward even when you find  that you are pushing yourself behind!

Thanks for reading!

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