Success is scarier than failure

This year I got everything I wanted.

And it was pretty scary.

Success can be scarier than failure.

It creates expectations, responsibility and accountability.

This month I was published in Frankie. A writing goal of mine which I’d given up on around August this year when I hadn’t received a response to any of my pitches to Frankie or any magazine for that matter.

One of the reasons why my pitches weren’t being picked up was because I was afraid to be myself, I was afraid to stand out. I wasn’t sharing what I deeply cared about and what I knew. I was playing it safe and hiding in a crowd whispering “pick me.”

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson

Not having any of my work published in the first few months was shit but I’d mentally prepared for it, and I accepted it, not readily but without any tears. You can imagine my surprise when I received an email for Frankie’s editor in October about a course I was running Don’t Be A Dick Overseas – a topic about ethical travel, something I’m very passionate and loud about.

She loved the title and course content and wanted me to write a piece about it for the magazine. I sat staring at the email with my mouth wide open for a good five minutes. Then called my partner and read the email out to him over the phone to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.

When I finally sat down to start writing my piece I got really nervous. I was thinking what if I can’t finish the piece? Or what if they don’t like it? I pictured all the ways I could fail, and what I could do to overcome those failures. And in the end I managed to push through the fear and write two pieces, which they loved.

Over the next few weeks while I waited for the edition to come out I felt a range of emotions I hadn’t before: expectations, responsibility and accountability. My inner monologue was running through thoughts like: What if I misquoted my interviewee? How am I going to keep getting published? Is this as good as it gets for me? Have I hyped myself up so much that people will be disappointed? How did I get this lucky?

I know a lot of writers, and people in general, have had these emotions. I think in a way I was experiencing what some call Impostor Syndrome. I didn’t believe I deserved my success and somehow I wasn’t worthy of it. I’ve always avoided really embracing feelings of success because I was scared, and no one ever talked about their successes in detail so I wasn’t prepared. Failure is hard, but continuing to grow after successes seemed harder. I’ve never been able to picture what it would feel or look like to succeed. Yet I was able to picture what it would be like to fail so easily, and overcome these feelings of failure.

Seeing my pieces published in this month’s edition was the moment I’ve felt the most successful. I got home and found the magazine shoved in my tiny mailbox, my heart skipped a beat as I ripped open the plastic and turn to the inside cover pages. And there was my name. In print. Nestled among other writers who I admired and saw as being successful. It felt great, finally real and very right.

Getting published in a print magazine was always going to be a huge moment for me, but it was more significant because of the piece that that got me there. The piece on ethical travel is completely me; my tone, voice, ideas and was only possible because of who I am, my past pieces, and the accumulation of my experiences over the last few years. Without realizing I’d sidestepped the crowd and was singling myself out. I overcame the fear I had around success, and just enjoy it for what it is; an exhilarating feeling.

Some of us are afraid of failure, but I think most of us are actually afraid of success. That’s why we don’t go after what we want, or be ourselves, or raise our expectations. And when we do find success we give into fear and Impostor Syndrome. But we don’t have to. If we accept everyone feels this way, and each of us deserves success then we are in a better position to overcome our fears. If you’re afraid to succeed, turn the negatives into positives. Because I guarantee all the fears you can come up with for not going after what you want, or enjoying what you have, will be the reasons you continue to succeed.

This is my last post for the year! Thanks for your ongoing support. And I hope to see you here again in 2016. Have a safe and happy holidays.

Featured image from Google.

Hi, I’m Rachel

I support multi-talented business owners to get clear on what makes them tick and desperately needed in their industry so they can make more money.

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Should you start a podcast?

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Should you start a podcast?

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Do you genuinely want to start a podcast? Or do you think it’s the only way to grow your audience, share your expertise and produce evergreen content?