Learning to fail while overcoming fear

This is a blog about fear. It’s about a fear of failure that’s run deep through my life without me even realizing that it’s there. It’s about action, inaction and a corrupted notion of self worth.

 Oh, and it’s also about Mother’s Day.

 Let’s get started!

 Three weeks ago Mother’s Day was still a holiday on the horizon, one every photographer prepares for and anticipates as a revenue source for May. Having come off of a painfully slow April I figured this would be a good chance to bring in some income for June and July.

 At first, things started smoothly. I created a detailed checklist and plan of action, designed and ordered promotional flyers, and began creating an outline for a Mother’s Day guide to better family posing.

 Then the inevitable happened.

 I sabotaged.

 Out of all the things on my checklist I managed to pull off three or four and let the other’s slowly evaporate.

 My social media outreach started strong with reminders, posted testimonials, tips and tricks…but that too ebbed away as Mother’s Day got closer and closer.

 I didn’t write the Mother’s Day guide, I didn’t reach out to local businesses about cross promotion and I didn’t run any ads.

 Then the holiday came and went and I had exactly zero bookings.

 The silly thing is that, in retrospect, I can totally see where and how I came up short, but at the time I was blind to the insufficiency.

 In fact, I was allowing myself to throw a pity party, which in turn became a convenient distraction from trying harder to meet my goals; a self-fulfilling cycle of irresponsibility and failure.

 But, with all that in mind, I’ve learned something I had always, ALWAYS believed wasn’t true: I have a debilitating fear of failure.

 So what’s that mean?

 It means that I would rather let a goal slip by due to inaction than actually give it my all and fail.

 The more that this reality set in the more I realized it’s been a motif throughout my life: going for jobs with low expectations, building friendships with people who need me more than I do them, avoiding uncomfortable truths about finances while borrowing heavily…

 All this is to say that I’ve been afraid of failing for years and never even realized it. Whenever I’d listen to an interview or read an article discussing the concept of fear I would always shrug my shoulders and ask, “what does that feel like?”

 Heck, even now as I write this article I’ve literally checked Instagram five times and changed the music three.

 Somebody slap me!

 But here’s the thing: understanding, admitting and observing are the first three steps to overcoming; to evolving.

 I feel so, so lucky to be able to recognize this trait in myself now instead of later, to gain some much needed clarity on my past actions and the faulted perception I’ve been deluding myself with.

 By coming out and recognizing how treacherous my own fear is I feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted…sort of.

 Because now I have another, newer fear...a fear that I won’t be able to recognize when/how I’m sabotaging myself.

 All in all I do believe that this is a learning process; that it gets better through dialogue, honest conversations and strategically placed blinders that block out a toxic pattern of comparison with other people’s success.

 Had I even had one booking for Mother’s Day I would have been teaching myself that a 50-60% effort is all it takes to meet at least part of my goal. The fear would have continued, unabated, and limited my potential for future promotions.

 And while the uncertainty of where my next client will come from feels like a punch in the stomach I’m glad to feel that punch now before I let another month go by without admitting that it was coming.

 So here’s what I think in conclusion: fear sucks. It’s subtle, deeply ingrained and if allowed becomes a part of our very personalities.

I WILL be putting myself into situations that scare me (not like fist fights or dark alleys…), I will be contributing to my personal growth and I will be open to sharing because I know that if I feel this way somebody else must too.

 The more we talk about fear, the more we let go of these STUPID comparisons and hubris the better we all become. So here’s to you, here’s to me, here’s to every person tired of avoiding the truth and tired of feeling like they have to brag in order to be taken seriously.

 I believe in you as much as I do in myself. I believe that together, in this community, we can overcome and improve.

 You are an inspiration, fear is natural, and by god never give up on your dream. We got this. Together.