Open Letter to Fear
Dear Paralyzing Fear of Failure:
People fail at things all of the time. It’s okay, and generally not the end of the world. Getting a few rejection letters as a result of actually sending queries out to editors will not kill me. And, honestly, the more queries I send out, the more likely someone is to actually say “yes” instead. Right now, by sending out none, I have no chance of a positive response, which doesn’t seem like a very good ration to me.
Of course, writing isn’t the only thing I worry about screwing up. You also don’t want me to call friends to hang out, because you want to shield me from the fact that they might have something going on at the moment I call. It’s really okay. I’m a big girl. There are ways around it, other arrangements can be made, other time can be spent. And if someone would consistently say “no,” then maybe I don’t need to be friends with them after all.
I just bought a sewing book and I want to make a skirt, or at least some napkins, but we haven’t dragged the fabric out of the closet because there’s the chance I won’t be able to sew a straight seam.
The closet hasn’t been gone through, because if I get rid of too many things I’ll have to replace some of them with different things and I won’t know how to dress myself.
The package needs to be sent to M, but the inscription hasn’t been written for fear of writing something stupid or making a wrong penstroke, oh, and for fear that my package won’t measure up to the one she will be sending me.
This is so ridiculous, especially since I could probably go on like this for an hour if I let myself, but that just seems as though it would belabor the point.
I’m tired of being afraid of doing any and everything. I’d much rather have a few spectacularly Technicolor goof-ups than to continue doing nothing because it’s safe. Because, really, doing nothing isn’t safe either. Doing nothing makes me anxious. It makes me sleep until noon and not leave the house. It makes me feel and act like a mouse, not cook, eat fattening food, or not eat at all because I don’t want to mess up the kitchen. It makes me wait to do dishes until no one else is home so that Mark and Chip won’t comment on how I might do them better (not that they’d even DO that sort of thing!).
So, what can I do to change this? Do I need to try to just charge ahead and ignore you, batter against you and hope that I am stronger than you all of the sudden? Do I need to tell someone I’m going to do something so that I have accountability to an actual, living, human being, rather than some weird piece of my psyche that’s way too good at intimidating me?
Please, let me know what I should do, because I’m really at the end of my rope and am tired of being tired and anxious and terrified of anything that stretches me in the least little bit beyond the very narrow confines I’ve shoved my life into over the past few years.
I know other people who have made enormous, colossal mistakes, ones that I can’t even begin to imagine being able to make, and they’re still out there living, interacting, putting themselves out there and making things happen. I want that. No, I need that.
Please let me live, give me a break. I can take some risks without endangering myself, I promise.