I fought a demon today. I fought him yesterday and the day before that. In fact, I’ve been fighting this particular form of evil for a long time.
I had written a piece for submission to a book that’s due out later this year. I had just finished my last round of edits and was ready to submit my chapter when the devil sidled up to me and whispered into my ear, “Do you really want to send that in? You want people to read that? That’s so stupid. How could you even write that?”
My hand was stilled. Words that moments before seemed to flow like melted butter felt clunky and inelegant. My carefully crafted lines appeared artless and juvenile. Fear had slipped into my heart and threatened to take up residence.
The first thing I did was look for someone to run my chapter by for approval. I ran through my mental Rolodex to find the person I thought would give me the most honest opinion. I searched my mind for the person who would respond most quickly. I searched for the person who would be the most supportive. I rejected each name I came up with for various reasons. In the end, I stared that demon right in his bloodshot eyes and said, “F*** you!”
Maybe likening fear to a demon is not fair. Fear serves a purpose. Fear has kept me out of dangerous situations more than once. The problem arises when we act out of fear when we’re not in a life-threatening situation. I mean, being afraid of a tiger that’s chasing you is one thing. Being afraid that someone won’t like what you wrote is a whole other thing.
There is no magic bullet for getting over fear or desire for approval. You just have to learn to trust yourself. That can be hard to do if you’ve been hit with challenges in life. Maybe you made a bad call in a relationship or with your money. Maybe you trusted the wrong person or made a bad decision at work. Any number of situations can cause us to lose faith in our judgment.
How did I get over the fear this time? Well, I read an article by someone who had experienced real troubles in life. It helped me realize my fear was superficial and vain. I wasn’t in fear of my life. I was afraid of my ego being bruised. If that’s not a first world problem, I don’t know what is.
So, when you’re feeling insecure about your writing or any aspect of your life, look outside yourself not for validation or approval but to see the blessing you have in being able to worry about something so trivial compared to the real problems in the world. Everything is relative. Look beyond yourself and see how good you’ve got it. Then, press “submit.”
PS – Here’s a link to the article I read: Everything Is Yours, Everything Is Not Yours on Medium. It made me think about what it means to be resilient.