The Fear of Fear
Scrolling through Instagram as I'm wont to do in the late evenings before bed, I stopped by one of my favorite corners of the internet. A wonderfully wild, raw corner by a lovely young woman, @katy_who. It's no surprise to her followers that she always speaks candidly and veraciously about life and its ups and downs. I found her most recent post definitely inspiring and her message stirred a thought in me.
Why is it so much easier to find the excuses than to find the reasons?
I speak personally, of course. I think, here I am at my desk writing, and does anyone read this? If not, why do I bother? There's a theme in some of my more recent writings where I mention how silly I feel for taking a selfie, for being self-deprecating, for maybe not "being myself." But listen, stop right here! Why are these thoughts even allowed in your mind? Why is it so much easier to apologize for something than to brazenly take it by the shoulders and shout, "This is me! This is what I'm made of and this is my creation!" If I put as much time into really laying down a plan to follow my many scattered dreams as I do into scrapping along the floor feeling the need to play to an audience I don't even know, I would be the most confident woman you ever did see.
But why can't I have the confidence? Because I allow myself to think too much. I remember overhearing a conversation once, on a bus back from Chicago I think, where two women were talking about this very idea. Finally, one said to the other, "No one cares about you as much as you think."
Wow. Harsh, right?
But she had a point. Again, from a personal standpoint, how much effort do I put into think about others' perceptions of myself and my actions? How much of what I create is based on what I think others want? Now, of course the content you make should have some sort of direction as to the demographic you're looking for, but it shouldn't change what you are at the heart of yourself. Do you like books? Share that. Do you enjoy pinning uplifting words for a later time's inspiration? Share them. But never put on a fake facade of who you really are.
I've done that before, as I'm sure many have. We see what works well for others; what drives followers and likes and all the ridiculous statistics we use in this 21-century life to affirm ourselves and our necessary existence. We can see what brings likes and sometimes we try to imitate that. I can absolutely for 1000% sure say that I have looked at a bananas amount of blogs looking at design ideas, photo layouts, portfolio content, and tried to "re-create." The thing is, there is finding inspiring around us and then there is simply copying what we see in the hopes of similar results.
Instead of being afraid that someone won't like what we create, we should be spending that deeply precious time creating what we love and letting the chips fall where they may. I'm 26 and all my adult life (all extra eight years??) I've been encouraged by friends and family. "Go chase your dream." "Do what makes you happy." "You could totally do that!" Instead of actually putting pen to paper, or fingers to keys and camera shutter buttons, I tend to laugh and reply, "Oh yeah, I could."
Well why don't you?? Are you listening self? It's time to take plans and actualize on them. Do I want to be able to write about travels, occasional short stories, take photos, and share adventures? You bet. Will I always have the same level of drive? Probably not, but that's ok. If you do what you love, what "sets your soul on fire," as a friend of mine said once, than you'll always have that inkling in the deepest part of your heart to come back to any project, no matter how tired you are. That's what it means to pursue something you put your whole self in to.
What I think is this: what's the point of taking thousands of photos, writing notes in book margins and scraps of paper, if I never do anything with them? I don't want to be another person who looks back at their youth, so privileged and allowed to grow, and sigh resignedly wishing I had had the courage to do something. So instead of planning another journal, another to-do list, it's time to act.