i am afraid of my own success

It’s seven-thirty in the morning. It has been one month – approximately – since I’ve made a post.

For some of you who know me personally, you know that this blog is only one of many projects I’ve decided to catch under my self-described Activism ADD umbrella. I want so desperately to enact positive change after seeking solace in negativity for so long. Eight months ago, I found myself committing to every volunteer opportunity that crossed my path. Seven months ago, I added this blog to the already blustery landscape, convinced that I would make time for it – just like I was “making time” for everything else – because I felt obligated, somehow, to share what I’d learned about bicycling and personal health to the world. It is incredibly important to me to be able to describe the lifestyle changes I’ve made, will make, and am making, in the knowledge that they’ve helped me positively transform my worldview. I want the possibility to exist that someone might read this blog and my words will click with them, and the roadblocks that previously prevented that person from living at full capacity will slowly melt away, as mine are doing.

So why haven’t I been writing? Where are these inspirational words – the jewels of my experience, the stones collected on the long, hard road of existence?

It isn’t that I’m not learning enough to write about. I’m learning plenty. I have a long list of topics that send excited shivers down my spine whenever I so much as think about writing them.

It seems I’m afraid of my own success.

This is an old habit of mine that tends to resurface right after I’ve felt the high that comes from breaking through one of my barriers. I’m feeling good about myself. I’m motivated. I’m getting things accomplished for myself and others at the same time. I have multiple functional projects, each receiving a responsible amount of attention. I’m talking to strangers and “putting myself out there,” something I’ve never thought myself capable of doing. Then, like the spin on Wheel of Fortune that teeters on the grand prize winnings before flopping over to bankrupt, I stop. I just. Stop. Everything.

I start to panic. Who are you to claim you can take this on? What was that? There are so many others with so much more experience than you have. Give it up. You’re making a fool out of yourself. Huh? People are tired of hearing you talk about gardens and bicycles. It’s been long enough since you worked on it that you may as well just write it off. Why are you asking for help on a project that will probably fizzle out anyway, like all the others you started? Have you forgotten that you wanted to be a veterinarian neuroscientist shipwreck scavenger astrobiologist forensic pathologist actress musician, too? Why do you think you have the capability to do these things? Just stop now and you won’t be embarrassed when you inevitably fail.

This line of thought used to cut short any real ambition I had, dissolving my confidence at the root: Failure is possible. Failure is embarrassing. Don’t try and you won’t fail.

I’m breaking that thought off right now.

Here’s my counterargument, self. I’m not on anyone’s schedule besides my own. I choose when I have meetings, the words I put down on paper, the people I connect with, and the knowledge I share. I also choose when I will share that knowledge. If I took a break from any of my projects, it’s because something else needed my attention. If that something else was me, and I wanted to be selfish for a while, then I have the right to devote as much time to me as I desire. I am passionate about everything I take time to do, and when I work on something, my love for it and natural inclination toward it will show. Which brings me to my next issue with your persuasion, o self, ego, ye of little faith: failure is the best part of an idea that has no limit.

Yeah, you heard me. Failure is the absolute best thing that can happen to an unlimited idea.

It makes sense. If I had only one, concrete goal, then failure could devastate the possibility of that goal being accomplished. My greatest strength lies in the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea where any of this is going. I know what I’d like to see, but by keeping my options open and only striving to be better, not best, I completely remove failure from the equation. I can’t fail in blogging because I plan to write more posts. I can’t, technically, fail at anything.

If I tell myself, “I would like to be a celebrated internet presence, achieve enlightenment, save the world, and be loved and admired by all,” then I have set myself up for failure because really, dude. Really.

Goals are great if they don’t actually put a cap on your aptitude and capability. I’m finished with letting my goals determine whether or not I have succeeded or failed – it’s time to let my goals be landmarks, not limits.

I have no idea what I’m capable of, but I’m finally ready to find out.

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