I stare numbly at the computer screen, blue light sending my brain into a frenzy of overstimulation. Somehow, in the midst of it, my body is immobile, and I struggle to even consider rising from the couch to do anything at all. Maybe it’s the last round of sickness that wiped our family out over the weekend. Or maybe it’s this gnawing fear that I’m not good enough.
I know this fear all too well. It walked with me through elementary school, when I decided to embrace life as a tomboy because I didn’t think I had what it took to be the prettiest girl. It stayed with me through high school, when I gave everything I had to graduate at the top of the class and earn a spot on the black felt record board with names of the best distance runners in the history of the school.
It continued into college, where I committed to graduate with perfect grades, and it stayed with me in my career, where I feared I might not be the best teacher I could be. I feared I might let someone down – disappoint them.
It still knocks at my door as a mom, where most of life is spent pouring into two little people with big blue eyes and radiant smiles. I wonder if I’m failing them. I wonder if my mistakes will lead them astray or cause them to turn away from faith, family, and selfless living.
Staring at the computer screen, the fear of failure is greeting me in a new realm today. I want to write. I’ve always wanted to write. This passion has gnawed at me like a hunger I can’t escape since I learned to put words on paper at age five. It’s forced me to quiet places, desks, and computer screens – refusing to let go of me.
Isn’t this where we fear most – in the places where our passions start to look like they might actually align with reality? We fear the big dreams in our hearts will never come to fruition. We fear we’ll fail in our efforts, so we don’t try at all. We don’t want our hearts to be broken through the slow crushing of our dreams or the criticism of those who don’t think we can do it.
This is where I find myself as I sit entranced on the couch. I’m on the cusp of this new thing, and it scares me. I stare at the words of an article I’ve proofread eight times. I want it to be perfect and I fear that if I’m rejected, it means I’m not enough. I close the computer without pressing the send button. I decide I’m not ready yet.
How often does the fear of failure close doors, close opportunities, and close minds? All because we don’t want to hear those words that tell us we aren’t enough.
What if the words that tell us no aren’t actually telling us we’re not enough? What if they don’t have anything to do with being enough? Maybe – just maybe – they are words that really mean, You’re getting closer. Keep trying. You’re almost there. Don’t give up. Your passion is here for a purpose. Keep practicing your passion.
All these things in mind, I return to the screen. I hit send and close the computer. It’s done. I breathe deeply. It’s my first submission as I embark on the new journey of freelance writing.
Months pass, and I gain confidence to submit dozens of articles to dozens of publications. Most of the time, I don’t hear anything in return, or they tell me my piece isn’t a fit for their publication at the time. This is how freelance writing works. There are more rejections than acceptances. But sometimes – on days when the stars are aligned and rainbows dance over meadows – someone says yes. Sometimes they tell me I wrote with passion and heart and I wrote well. Sometimes.
I never hear back from the publication that received my first submission. Rejection in the form of silence. But it didn’t sting like I feared it would. Sometimes rejection is grace, and silence is better than the sting of regret.
And so I continue on the journey. I keep hitting the send button. I realize rejections don’t have much at all to do with me, and I realize my worth isn’t slightly related to my success as a writer. I am defined by God’s love for me, and it is enough.
It’s enough for you, too. Are you hesitating to step into a passion because you fear failure? Are you worried about what others will think or that you don’t have what it takes? Let me encourage you to step up, step out, and step in. You will still fail along the way. But don’t fear the failure. Fail and rise and try again. Your passions are planted for a purpose. Keep pressing onward.