One night a few months ago, I was listening to a few people talk about their hopes, dreams and fears, when one of them said something really profound:
"I'm not afraid of succeeding; I'm afraid of failing at a higher level."
Say what?!?!? I mean, WOW. And when I really thought about what this person meant by the comment, it made complete sense to me. See, there was a time back when I had an agent (ahhh, those were the days) when Harper Collins Childrens were considering taking on one of my books. I remember clearly the day that I got the phone call from my agent, telling me that an editor at the publishing house really loved the first part of my book (at the time, I'd only gotten about 50 pages into writing this particular novel), but wanted me to rewrite it in the first person (to better match the tone of my synopsis). My agent told me this was a very good sign and that chances were good that with the rewrite, we'd be in business.
Now, to say I was overjoyed, was an understatement. It was the first time since I'd begun the whole process that I actually started to believe it was really going to happen. An editor liked my writing enough to ask me to do a quick revision, so she could bring it to the rest of her colleagues and see if they felt the same way about it. I was so close to having my dreams come true....and for just a few moments (trust me, they were fleeting), I started to panic.
I thought: "Oh, God. What if I actually get what I want? What if they DO publish my book, and I have to go on book tours, and do interviews, and have strangers stare at me, and I end up in the tabloids for not looking cute enough when I go out to get coffee on the weekends...."
And then I came back to reality, because all I've ever wanted was to be published. It's my dream. I want to do the book signings, talk with people about the worlds I create, meet fans. I fully believe that writing is what I was MEANT to do. It's my passion. It's in my soul and I can't not do it. So why that instant fear over having my life's goal realized? I think the thing that was really driving my panic was the fear that I wouldn't be good enough, that people wouldn't like my books. I was afraid of failing in such a BIG way.
So, in that respect, it wasn't the success I was actually fearful of, I was scared of how it would feel to come that close to my dream and then fail. And fail in such a monumental way. And that, I thought, would have been devastating for me. Thus the reason for my momentary breakdown.
In the end, the editor ended up rejecting my book anyway (Duh. Otherwise, I wouldn't be looking for a new agent now!), which in a way, hurt much more than being rejected by some faceless publishing company who showed no interest from the beginning. Still, you can't go after the big rewards without a little risk. It's the laws of the universe.
Fear's gonna pop up whether you're succeeding or failing, in a rut or on a roll. The point is to keep your eyes on the prize and push past the fear. It'll be worth it when you finally get what you've always dreamed of.
What do you guys think? Scared of success or fear of failing?