My two friends and I talked about fear of success the other day. Our discussion entailed how the culprit targets millennials and begets foreboding quarter-life crises or worse, The Imposter Syndrome. In part of the conversation, I got very candid about how these things held me captive for more years in my twenties than I care to admit. Due to their suggestions, or more like “You need to write this down for everyone!” I’m sharing a little bit of my story here.
For me, being successful has always boiled down to accountability. I’m great at a lot of things. Where some people struggle doing certain things, they come to me effortlessly, causing me to wonder how it is difficult to anyone if I, The Flighty Wandering Pisces, can do it. In my ignorance, or what I understand now as my becoming, I discounted those things as gifts. As disrespectful to God as that is, doing so absolved me from being responsible. Hurtful on one end, not acknowledging and using my gifts meant I didn’t have to carry the weight of being someone’s leader or way-paver. I would say, “God, it’s enough trying to do life for myself and you want me to inspire strangers? Psst!”
So, I skated by…and suffered.
My captivation by fear precipitated self-sabotage. It is a funny kind of hell knowing that you’ve Got It but are deathly afraid to Use It. A hellified shit show, my entanglement process included feeling like shit because my project or thing failed. Then feeling like shit because I was the reason it failed. Then feeling like shit because I was afraid to try and give it my all, aloud for everyone to hear and see. Then feeling like shit because someone else did my project or thing – maybe not as good as I would’ve – and being challenged by the fact that they persevered and buckled down when I couldn’t. Then feeling like shit because bills are due and could’ve been paid had I tried better or at all. Add or omit something. Change its order. Rinse and repeat. No matter how you slice it, running on fear’s treadmill leaves a shit taste in your mouth.
Billie Holiday sang a song about heartache, where the miscreant refused to leave. It haunted her daily, hung around, and got comfortable in her stuff. By the end of the song, she relented its presence with, “good morning heartache, sit down.” I’ll be damned if I didn’t do this with fear.
In our acquaintance with one another, so came deep depressions, anxiety, panic attacks, isolation, sleep paralysis, and “the demonic spirit” of suicidal thoughts. I explained to my friends had it not been for my son back then, I would not be here in the flesh today. I know there were other things going on within me besides fear of greatness and not living a called life that made me suicidal. However, it’d be a personal disservice not to acknowledge it all. Cause? No. Correlation? Yes.
🎶Wish I could forget you, but you’re here to stay / It seems I met you when my love went away
What got me here, was a lot of honesty, layer peeling, self-love, and self-discovery. Today, I’m milestones closer to being who I am called to be. Self-sabotaging behaviors aren’t as prevalent, nor is my deep desire to permanently leave this place for peace I thought unattainable.
After realizing I’d “gotten deep”, I reiterated to one of my friends, who is in the throes of being afraid to fully be her awesome, beautiful, money making self, that I understood exactly how she feels. The onus of finding and keeping success while possessing Black Girl Magic and being #EverythingGoals suffocated me for an onset of years I can’t get back. I don’t want that for my sisters.
Imagine eating lukewarm grits. As a Southern connoisseur of the grain, know that I find this flippantly blasphemous. But back to the lackadaisical grits. Butter won’t fully melt in them due to heat deprivation. If you’ve been starving for a day or two, though, you’d mumble a prayer, stuff a spoonful in your mouth, and pretend for better, hotter servings. You eat them because you have to, never because you want to. Consider this a visual of me doing the absolute least with my things, which put me at square one of doing my worst. All the negativity you’ve read until this point basically recycled themselves in my life.
🎶Stop haunting me now / Can’t shake you no how / Just leave me alone / I’ve got those Monday blues / Straight to the Sunday blues
I fight through fear every day. Every Blue Moon, one of those unfortunate thoughts pop in my head. However, instead of falling too deeply into its abyss, I recognize how far I’ve come. How long it’s been since those thoughts were constant. How much work I’ve put into my flexible methods of powering through it all. A part of my growth and healing has been redefining what both success and fear mean to me. Somewhere through the pain of shifting from past to present taught me that I need them both to move on. That I can reimagine how they look and feel to me. That one doesn’t come without the other. That no matter their dosages, I will be okay.
I don’t want to be friends with heartache like Ms. Holiday, but I do appreciate her acknowledgement of the emotion. She welcomed it for a spell and sat with it until she found it necessary to leave. This is how I regard all the things that plague millennials in the digital age. Be honest about your things. Do your things. Feel your way through them. Continue to do your things. You’re gonna make it, sis.
🎶Good morning heartache, here we go again / Good morning heartache, you’re the one who knows me well / Might as well get use to you hanging around / Good morning heartache, sit down
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Small print: I am not a mental health professional. Please seek one if you struggle with depression, anxiety, and/or suicide. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgfor more information. You are not alone.