Fear of Success
Dear Africana Woman,
How are you Sunshine? I hope you are having a brilliant week. I don’t know if you know this. I started the Africana Woman blog so as I could write regularly as a way of practice for writing my first book. I have been saying that I will start writing the book since January 2021. But the truth is I have failed to start the first sentence. Don’t get me wrong, writing flows naturally to me. When I sit down to write this love letter to you every week, the words lay down one after the other like dominos. So I have had to question myself on why it is a struggle to start my book. Today the answer finally came to me.
I am afraid of success.
Lol. I know. I know. You are thinking “Most people fear failure so how can you fear success?” Well simple, it is the stories that I have told myself that are deep seeded in my unconscious mind that are holding me behind invisible bars. I guess there are a few things that make me hesitate.
My privacy is deeply important to me. Says the person who spills all in public every week. I value living a normal life where I can go anywhere and be obscure in my anonymity. I do not admire celebrities who lose the right to walk into a public domain without being recognised, stopped and admired. Sorry, judged. See when I dream of success I DREAM BIG. I see global domination and reach. However, it is more important that my work is successful than me, the persona, having star status. So, I struggle with letting go of the mundane day to day tasks that we take for granted but for celebrities is a luxury. If I could not go to a supermarket and dance to the music in the aisles I would be miserable.
Another thing I fear is what I would have to compromise to get to my vision. More precisely, I fear losing myself on the way to the top. It’s the simple things. Like, nine out of ten times I choose not to wear makeup because I am comfortable in my skin. However, I have received disapproving direct messages that expressed shock to see me on a Live with not a lick of makeup. Or currently there are things I have to omit from my writing because of certain associations and it feels disingenuous or that my writing is not complete. Sadly, the time is not right to sever those connections. I am also such a home body; therefore, I am usually very comfortably dressed. A hoodie, bum shorts and a wrap (chitenge) are my standard attire. Fortunately, the work I do does not require me to be dressed glamorously in every moment. However, I think people measure my competence against the casualness of my attire. These seem like small examples, but as they say many drops make an ocean. So if I compromise in many small areas, will I lose the essence of being me?
I must add that if you are a believer in a greater power, there is a high chance you fear that God’s definition of success looks different from your definition of success. Often, we want to dictate what our success should be in prayer whilst resisting divine guidance. We clutch onto societies metrics of success that have been drummed into us from birth forgetting that as unique an individual as you are also merits that your success will be unique to you. Accepting your unique success can take a while. I encourage you not to focus on external pressures. Don’t take a sneak peek at your neighbour’s test paper. You are not writing the same exam with anyone else. Look within and figure out what your metrics of success are by understanding what gives you true peace and joy. To be honest, I fear the unknown of what God’s definition of success is for me. I think I have seen a glimpse of what could be but I will never really know until I get there. I also don’t want to think of success as a destination but as a journey.
Another scary thing is being able to maintain the success. It is one thing to hit your peak performance, but it’s another thing to stay at the top. No one wants to be a one hit wonder. To be honest I think that if this concerns you then you are doing what you do with selfish intentions and not a spirit of service.
Finally, I fear public opinion. I know this may be considered vain. But when I perceive a public distaste for me, it feels like Wolverine is slashing his blades across my bare heart. I have a friend who laughs at how emotionally invested I get in films. Just yesterday I was joking with her that I could not watch a certain show with her because my heart is too weak. I think what really scares me is that the public will give individuals characteristics which are mostly singular, forgetting that we are all many things and we evolve. The public is not forgiving to people being humans who make mistakes but more than that, humans who evolve. How many a career has been smashed to pieces because something surfaced from 20 years ago that was disturbing. Ask yourself are you the same person you were last year, five years ago, ten years ago let alone twenty years ago. Yet why do we hold people in the public eye to divine standards of being. So, I worry that if I truly were in the public eye, I know that I will inevitably fail plenty of times. However, I question whether my heart is strong enough to withstand public scrutiny. I question whether it is worth trading my peace for my privacy being invaded.
I realise these are hurdles in my mind that I need to cross. For example, my coach says when someone unsubscribes from your mailing list or unfollows you, that is okay because they were not for you. Meaning they are not your target audience therefore, they have saved you spending resources pursuing them. I get it intellectually but emotionally the gash across my heart aches as I question whether what I am doing is of value. A change in mindset and the emotions you attach to things can be a gradual process. So I am taking my time working through the fear of success without judging myself too harshly.
Funny enough I recently watched a series that was about a wildly successful author who used an alias in order to protect his privacy. At a certain point the writer’s work was criticised by the public and his popularity tanked. Do you know what this dude did? He adopted a new alias and continued to write and became wildly successful again. He understood that the public could not take away his talent despite their speculation driven by rumours. He would always be a world class writer. This story taught me that it is possible to carve out what suits you according to your priorities, values and desires. That is, it is important that I write a book that will have an impact on many, but it is not as important that the content is linked directly back to me.
I will end here. Like I said, I am a work in progress, so who knows when I will actually be able to start the first sentence. I wonder have you ever been afraid of success? Let me know in the comments what exactly you experienced. Let’s help each other out. Thank you for reading. Make sure you click the subscribe button and I promise to send you a love letter every week. In the meantime do check out the Africana Woman blog, podcast and visionary tribe. I can be found @Chulu_byDesign if you need me during the week. Sweetheart, remember to love yourself, flaws n all, and attract the like you truly desire.