Overcoming the fear of creating

This is my first ever article that was posted on my first blog on the 19th of June 2016. I thought I would share it again since it is still relevant to me and hopefully to some of you. Cheers to my friend Simon for translating it from French for me. Enjoy your reading.

There’s only one way to never fail at anything: it’s to never try anything. However, it’s also the best to never succeed at anything.

When I was younger, I often had to fight a strong and persistent form of anxiety. There are many examples of this. As a young boy, I used to refuse to go to the park because I was afraid of the other children. Until the very end of my school days, I started every day with a knot in my stomach, without any apparent reason, scared of what the day might hold. I also used to pretend that I was sick in order to avoid my gymnastics training. I haven’t always known the reason behind those anxiety streaks, but today I strongly believe that they found their roots in a deep fear of not being good enough.

I believe that, as human beings, we have a certain tendency to try and find truths and meaning in what we have to go through, thus involuntarily letting circumstances define our identity. As far as I’m concerned, life quickly taught me that I was neither good-looking, nor particularly talented or popular, and that I had to perform and reach rather difficult standards in order to receive affection, respect, and to be valued by others. I therefore hid myself behind every mask at my disposal, hiding my real self for one simple reason: because I was afraid to suck.

By now, you might be wondering why this story is featured on a blog about style. Then here is why:

I’m now 20, and happy to report that this chronical anxiety has disappeared. I now know who I am, what I’m worth, and I believe in myself enough to finally tell this story without any shame. However, this anxiety sometimes catches me back, and I let myself be intimidated by it, crippled by this fear of failure.

I noticed that one particular domain touched by this fear is my creativity. Whenever I create something, whether it’s an Instagram picture, a piece of writing, when I dress someone (or myself), when I prepare a public speech or even simply when I take some time to think or work on a personal project, I tend to feel two things. The first one is a feeling of joy, the utter happiness of letting my heart take the reins and express itself, the joy of doing something that makes me feel alive. However, the fear that I talked about is also there, trying to shake me up, whispering in my ear “but what if you fail? What if you’re not interesting? What if no one cares? Are you sure you’re good enough?” I must admit that I sometimes let it overwhelm me, to the point where I abandoned what I’d planned or postponed it, or if by some miracle I still finished it, I used to justify myself when presenting the end product, so as to be certain not to be held as a failure or lose face if it was not received well.

Well, my purpose today, with this article, is to offer two ways to overcome such a “creative blocking” if you happen to have one too.

The first thing is to remember who you are. You need to ask yourself “if I happen to fail, what does it change?”. I’m a Christian, and I therefore believe that my identity is defined by my God, for he is my creator. He knows that I’m made of, and permanently defined my worth when He was nailed to a cross for me.

I understand that this might not speak to everyone, and it certainly hasn’t always made sense to me. I will thus reformulate in these terms: know that you have a priceless value, not defined by what you’ve achieved or by what you’ve failed to achieve. Of course, it is sometimes necessary to practice and improve yourself in private before sharing everything to the public, but the more you seek perfection, the less you’ll dare sharing whatever results you’ve obtained. Once we are free from this need to impress people, convinced of having nothing to prove to anyone, then we will dare to create things to express ourselves, not to impress others. We are far more than just our performances. Whatever you want to do needn’t be perfect and flawless, it just needs to reflect what you want it to. Let us believe that doing our best is enough! Let us pursue excellence, push back our own boundaries but let us not be slaves to an unnecessary perfectionism!

The second trick that I want to suggest is the following: whenever you face one of those blockings for a task or a project that seems either too delicate or scary, whenever you feel uncertain or unconfident, just diving in and trying to achieve said task or project might just be enough to counteract your fear. It might sound obvious. Indeed, haven’t we all been taught from childhood to face our fears? The reality of it is somewhat more complicated than that. I have enough unfinished projects to know that diving in is not as simple as it sounds. One thing that helps me, that gets me started, is that it’s not necessary to have it all figured out, planned out for the next five years before starting something. A single step in the right direction is infinitely more effective than staying put. We all need to start somewhere and sometime, and that time and place might be now. I don’t deny, by any means, that having a plan is useful, because running head down might indeed lead you into a wall. However, it is important to know and recognize caution from sheer fear. Let us be advised, wise and thoughtful, but also daring, for these attributes are not enemies but complement each other.

So today, I would like to challenge everyone that might recognize him or herself in this situation. Let us take a step toward achieving our dreams. Whether it’s painting, drawing, writing, sports, leading a healthier life, shake off an addiction, play an instrument, designing things or anything else (preferably positive), now is the time to start walking towards it.

By now, you might have understood that this article is first and foremost aimed at myself. How hypocritical of me would it be to challenge you to do something that I wouldn’t attempt myself. Thus, here is my own concrete and personal step: opening the blog that I’ve dreamt of for so long. I have been waiting for the right time for too long, and the right time might never come if I don’t make it happen. I also pledge not to tear the sheets of paper on which I wrote these words, as I have done it so many times, and let this be the first of many posts.

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