I am somehow equally afraid of success as I am of failure. I am afraid that if I fail everything I believe about myself is true. I am afraid of success because it is an unknown. If I succeed I have no idea what my life will look like. The feeling is much like diving off of the excessively high diving board. You can climb it, you can even stand on the edge, but you can always turn around. If you turn around you will be the same person you were when you climbed up. Nothing will have changed, except you may feel a little less about yourself. There may be some laughing or people making fun of you, but you will still be the same you.
However, if you jump something will change. You might belly flop and be in pain for days. You might be cheered by those watching. You might have to push yourself to achieve something harder, but what is harder than this? When you are standing on the edge, your toes touching air, you can’t imagine anything more difficult. You will have made the decision to push past fear, and because you did it once you can do it again.
When I started graduate school I did so with the intention of being a leading voice in the regenerative farming movement. I wanted to help enact change, both locally and globally. Not only did I start school, but I also started writing a book. It’s a book on how conventional farming in America is damaging the environment, the farmers, and the consumers. I spent months working on writing over 100 pages. I read books, journal articles, and interviewed farmers. It was my pride and joy. I wrote with passion, but also with the understanding that I am a nobody in this field. Getting anyone to see the value in publishing my work would be near impossible.
When the pandemic hit America I put it aside to tend to my family and finish the semester. I watched as our food systems started to fail, a prediction I had made in the book (although I was expecting the catalyst would be climate change, not a surprise pandemic). Months went by, the semester ended, and I still couldn’t open my book. I couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I was so afraid I would all of a sudden hate everything I had written. I was afraid if I opened it up I might end up having to share it with someone.
I needed some sanity in my life so I took a summer course that may not even end up counting towards my required classes. I needed to be challenged intellectually, and that’s what I got. She challenged us to think of ourselves as leaders, taught us how to effectively initiate change in the community, and pushed us to think outside the box when it came to what our careers could look like. By the end of the class I knew I had to open the book again and continue figuring out how to jump off this diving board.
The book is open again.
Stay tuned because changes are coming to the blog. Exciting changes. Changes you will want to be a part of.
One thought on “Of books and fears”
I understand all of your fears and worries. I think everybody does. Glad to hear the book is open again.