Do you ever just feel like you’re about to jump out of your skin because you can’t wait for something to happen? Like a kid who can’t sleep the week before Christmas, your head is always somewhere else. Fixated. Excited. Nervous. Giddy. You feel like the waiting is driving you crazy? Anticipation. I’m thinking about this because I’m in a kind of state, myself. I am by turns excited at so many of the plans I’m hatching for this year (and beyond) and also a bit scared.
I get goosebumps when I think about the potential for the NOH8 (Fag Bug) event in April. There is always that precarious moment when I’m planning an event when I think, “What have I gotten myself into?” Why did I say yes? Now that people and organizations are committing to participating and sponsoring, I feel like it’s real. I feel that sense that I could let everyone down or humiliate myself by failing to deliver what I promise. There is a spirit to this event that is unlike any other that I have been a part of. It was the same when I organized the Fag Bug events here in 2007. People have a desire to say yes to this event. And I am grateful for that! And people are bringing their talents, ideas, and enthusiasm in ways that delight and surprise me. I just hope I can honor them and Erin (owner of the Fag Bug) and the mission of this Big Idea we are having.
Sometimes when I’m busy dreaming up ideas, I get scared that I can’t pull it off. I have some plans for this year — including really stepping out in the creative-writing sphere — that require a push. I have to push myself past the discomfort of leaving my normal, comfort-zone. I have to push past the fear of failure. Push through the doubt. But sometimes, I also have to push through a fear of success. Is that strange? Sometimes I start thinking about a project or idea and I get so excited and I think, “What if this really works?”
Wow… What if it does?
When I was younger, I don’t think I ever gave much thought to success. I hadn’t had any, yet! So every venture was new and unknown and terrifying and risked failure. Every idea was a big idea. Every job was an important link in the chain of my future. But since I hadn’t had any success yet, there was very little to lose. I could go for it. I could fail. And so what? If I crapped out, there wasn’t much that was on the table. It reminds me a bit of watching my daughter when she was learning to walk. I don’t think she feared falling down, which she did a lot, because there was so much more to gain by risking a fall than if she just sat on her butt, safe but limited.
Now that I’m a bit older, I do have something to lose. There’s no doubt about it. I am a mom and a wife. I have responsibilities and bills to pay, not to mention my own bruised ego if I fall down. I can bet big and lose. And that scares me. But then the opposite is true, too. Because when we bet big and win, it can be a real game-changer in our lives. Success can bring great rewards but also change. And even good change can be scary.
I am reminded of when I won the Nevada Press Association’s Outstanding Journalist of the Year award back in 2005. It’s the highest individual honor a journalist can get from the NPA. When I won, it was a complete surprise and a bit of a shock. The Outstanding Journalist is nominated by an editor and mine kept it a secret. So I didn’t even know I was nominated until I found out I had won. It was a huge honor, as it is a measure of not just one or two stories but a whole body of work and your skills as a journalist. But as soon as the news sunk in, I was immediately anxious and a bit afraid of the award and what it would mean. Everything was going to change. And it did. My colleagues and bosses treated me differently. Sources and press agents took a different tone. There was begrudging respect, jealousy, and a feeling that I had been put up on a pedestal that was just waiting to be kicked over. Indeed, winning that award was the beginning of the end of my love-affair with being a full-time, traditional, print journalist. And after I got my plaque, I drank too many chocolate martinis and hid my award under a pile of sheets in a guest-room closet, where it sat for more than a year.
Admittedly, there was a lot more going on with that win than just the award itself. Like so many of you, I have struggled over the years to find my own sense of worthiness. I am happy to say that today I would not have the same reaction to that award that I did back then because a big part of my problem was a deep sense that I did not deserve it. So, let’s nip that in the bud right now. I work hard. I deserve my successes! No, what I’m talking about is a kind of fear about change. Not a fear that I don’t deserve good things.
For instance, I am getting ready to watch the Oscars tonight with friends. And one of my writing projects is a screenplay. (In fact, more than one.) While I don’t see myself at the Oscars, I can’t help but wonder what may come of these screenplays. Will these movies get made? How will that change my life? My family’s life? I have been enjoying writing these screenplays so much and getting back in touch with my creative-writing side. I could see myself doing that. What a life! I could continue to work from home, writing stories that entertain people! That’s my dream! But then sometimes I get scared thinking about if that really happens. Would I have to move? How might it impact my daughter and husband? The big ideas and dreams I have effect more than just me.
Of course, all this worry and doubt doesn’t really do any good. It certainly doesn’t help me get the job done. It’s no better than when fear of failure keeps me sitting idle on the couch, instead of sitting at my desk. But it is times like these that I wish I had a crystal ball. How is it going to work out? Is this idea going to work? Is this project a waste of time? Will people show up to that event? It’s the anticipation that gets me every time!