Reader QUIT: Being Afraid (by Dana Sitar)

It’s time to quit being afraid, and that’s all there is to it.

Okay, maybe that’s kinda huge, and not really so simple at all.  Still, letting go of fear is vital to any kind of success in any kind of dream, because, let’s face it, dreams are scary.

I have particularly scary dreams, too.  I want to make a living writing.  I want to start my own business.  I want to help other dreamers discover and follow their own paths.  I want to sell books.  (Maybe you, brave readers of Cordelia, don’t think that stuff is so scary, but you should see my mom shudder when I say it!)

 

Why I’m Quitting Fear

Two years ago, I had a simple job, a simple degree track, an affordable apartment in a small town, and easy access to family and friends.  But I wanted to be a writer, and I needed to leave all that behind to do it.  That was scary, and I did it.  I quit my job, quit school, sub-letted my apartment, taught my parents how to Skype, and moved from Wisconsin to San Francisco.

A year later, it got scarier.  My boyfriend wanted to be a full-time standup comedian, and he had to go on the road to do it.  We couldn’t afford rent and all that travel, so we ended our lease, bought a car, and set out together.  For seven months we lived couch-to-hotel without a home.  Man, was it scary to try to follow these writer dreams with that kind of instability.

But I ignored the nagging fears and did those things.  It makes me wonder: Why do I ever let fear hold me back from anything?

I still fear a lot of things—meeting celebrities, launching a new book, pitching major publications, to name a few—but it’s so pointless to be afraid!  We convince ourselves that our fears are actually reason, that we need to protect ourselves from irrational choices and inevitable failure.  But all that “reason” is really protecting us from is achieving our dreams.  The stories we tell ourselves about the bad things that will happen if we stray from the beaten path are not reasonable.  That’s our fear talking.

All fear leads to is a lifetime of disappointment, what ifs, and—OMG, the scariest thing of all!—stagnance.  Your own fear, like a gigantic, scary security guard, stares you down with threats and keeps you toeing the line and sticking to the status quo.  BUT, like a security guard threatening kids at the mall, your fear doesn’t have any real power.  Defy it, and see what happens.  Mall security guards don’t even carry pepper spray, for cryin’ out loud.

 

How I’m Quitting Fear

It’s not easy to ignore your fears, but it’s quite simple.  There is one simple question that helps me—and can help you—overcome fear: What’s the worst that could happen?  Imagine failing at the thing you’re afraid to try.  What does failure look like?  How bad is it, really?  Is it ever as bad as living life without trying in the first place?

It’s freakin’ not, and you know it.

I’m not one hundred percent perfect at it yet, but my basic Overcome Fear and Follow Your Dreams strategy is to ask myself this question whenever I decide not to do something that at one point I thought would be awesome.  What’s the worst that could happen if you publish that ebook?  What’s the worst that could happen if you pitch that story?  What’s the worst that could happen if you get rid of all your possessions and move across the country?

Oh, not that bad? So go for it.

Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and indie author.  To help other writers overcome their fears, her latest ebook, A Writer’s Bucket List, is a kick-in-the-butt for those who don’t know what to do next and a simple guide to forging your own unique path and finding a writing life that’s Just Right for you.

 

Interested in submitting a Reader Quit of your own?  Check out how here.

Image: Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha / Flickr

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  • Thanks again for having me. Goodness, these are some bold demands I make of your readers! That reminds me: I’m supposed to step up my game and stop being afraid… Can’t be a hypocrite.

    • I’ll be right there, with you, sister. I challenged YOUR readers last week and now have to hold up my end of the bargain, as well. 🙂

      • Oo, good point! Darn these public declarations…

  • Darius Belejevas

    These days I find all those tingly feelings associated with fear kind of exciting – a healthy reminder that there’s still so much space for growth.

    Great article!

    • Yes. Great point – love it!

    • I keep reading/seeing lately (as though the universe is trying to tell me something) that nerves and anxiety are just another form of energy. You can let them overtake you and petrify you, or you can channel that energy into action, resolution, and daring. It’s all in how you use it.

      • Brilliant reframe, Cordelia! Thank you ~

  • Elli M

    You are my hero, lady. I’m just in the first phase of ditching all the “safe” stuff I was doing and transitioning into writing full-time, and it’s much scarier than I thought it would be. (I was a consultant/freelancer before, so you’d think it’d be less traumatic than it would be for someone with a 9 to 5, but it’s totally not.) 🙂 Thanks for this!

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