Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Fear of Success

I stumbled across an article yesterday titled Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators.

If you have a minute (or are busy procrastinating), this is a really good read.

The author delves into the psyche of the typical writer in a way that I'd never imagined. It was almost as though she was speaking directly to me. Always one for a new theory on psychological or sociological matters, this one really hit me.

Growing up, I always excelled at reading and writing. Much like the hypothetical children in the article, I had a strong love for literature and spent my childhood emerged in books that were far past the reading level for children my age.

In doing so, I was made to believe I was smart and/or hard-working. I earned praise from my parents and my teachers for engaging and excelling at all things literature-based.

However, as this article points out, there was a Catch-22 of sorts to this type of praise I was receiving. I was not over-extending myself. I was not trying to better myself. I just had a natural inclination towards reading and writing. And yet, I was still praised for being smart.

This, in turn, led me to associate intelligence and success with natural ability.

They say the events of your childhood are the strongest indicators of who you become. And this was no exception. To this day, I've never really put a great deal of effort towards anything. I've put too much stock in my natural abilities and have never made a conscious effort to expand them.

Much like the teenager who refuses to study, and then aces the exam anyway (that would be me, in a nutshell.. I'm not sure I've ever really "studied" for much of anything), there's a natural high in placing yourself above the system, and still coming out on top. I never really consciously understood this until I read this article.

I may not have been a straight-A student all my life (far from it, in fact), but I always managed to squeak by. I always managed to 'squeak by' through my academic courses with very little effort. I used to think I was just a very lazy, bare-minimum type of person by nature. Now, after reading this article, I'm thinking there's a much deeper issue present.

I'm terrified of failure. And that fear of failure is even greater than the desire to succeed.

After all, why would I have a desire to succeed when I've been handed things my entire life? My proclivity towards literature and writing has kept me afloat for 27 years. To attempt something new and challenging would be foolish.

And if I'm being honest here, this is the primary reason why law school has never and will never be an option for me. I don't have the academic drive to survive three years of intensive studying (like I said, I was never taught how to study), all the while scrambling to avoid the looming, very real probability of failure.

To subject yourself to law school is to toss yourself out to sea during a storm, held together by nothing but a tattered life jacket. Is there a possibility you could make it out alive, fight the current and eventually drift back to shore in one piece? Sure. There's always a chance. But it's not likely.

As far as writing goes, I think I now understand why I have an unfinished novel gathering dust in the corner of my mind. All that's missing is the final chapter.

Perhaps I'll write it one day.

But for now, I'm content in knowing that delaying the effort also delays my vulnerability to failure.

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same way. it's so hard not to write. that's the problem!! one day i'll write my novel too...