Thursday, December 6, 2012


Fear is a funny thing. It’s just an emotion. It’s that voice inside our heads, sometimes not even a voice. It’s a whisper. A niggling doubt. But sometimes it is claws twisting our insides into knots until we stop functioning. It can be paralyzing and completely destructive.

As a mom, I’m an expert in fear. Elizabeth Stone said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” And this is as true a statement as there can be made. I love these precious children of mine so deeply. And I fear all kinds of things for them. It doesn’t stop me from sending them off to school or letting them go play with friends. I cheer them on when they scrape a knee, because that means they were running and playing and enjoying life. That doesn’t change the fact that they will encounter things that I cannot control or shield them from.

And I still fear. I fear I’m not good enough. I fear I should be doing things differently. I fear all of the potential and real wrong decisions I have made or might make. The list could be endless if I chose to focus on that. But there comes a time when I have to take a stand and realize that I can only do what I can do. I cannot control everything. And I can do my best, whatever level of best that might be on a given day. If my children end up needing a therapist later on, well, then maybe that means I did my job right. I don’t know, but at least I’ll have tried to do my job. That has got to count for something.

I have other fears, too. I have a degree in Illustration. But that voice, those doubts, they creep in whenever I sit down and try to draw something. “What if people hate it? What if it sucks? What if it’s just been a big fat waste of time and energy?” And if I listen to those voices for too long, the project is no longer fun, it’s scary. And when that happens, I put it down, hide it away, and forget that I started it.

I also have issues with the holiday season. I’m not going to get into them here, but I will say this: Fear can sometimes blindside me, rearing its head over old, old, issues when I’m not looking. And I’ve come to a point where I actually recognize it now. I see what it is that’s sucking my enjoyment right out of the months of November and December. And I think I’m ready to stare down that particular monster and conquer it. It won’t be overnight, but anything is better than dreading the holidays.

And then there’s my writing. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I’ve wanted to be an artist. And I face the same fears with writing as I do with drawing and painting. But so what if people hate it? Is it really a waste of time to have written? Somehow I don’t think so.

Since I finished NaNo, I’ve been afraid to continue on with my manuscript. I’ve feared the words won’t be right, and I desperately want them to be perfect. But as I finished reading a novel tonight, I realized that every author has a first novel. And even if I don’t ever end up published, I enjoy telling the story. I have hundreds of them in my head, waiting for me to illustrate them, write them, or just tell them to my kids over campfires. None of which are a waste of time.

The real waste of time is the staring at the screen, letting the fear win as I procrastinate finishing something that I know I need to finish. That I want to finish, but somehow don’t believe I can finish.

Well, I can. It can be done, and I’m going to do it. 

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