I’m afraid of success.

I don’t know how many of you out there have dealt with this fear of mine (which I recently uncovered). It’s actually a fear that I tend to push to the side and pretend doesn’t exist. I even started out writing this post by talking about another one of my fears instead of this one. It’s weird because I feel like I’m going to be totally judged by putting this out there, that people are going to say, “what’s wrong with you, you’re crazy!” However, I’m trying to let myself be more vulnerable and open up a bit in order to push through my seemingly whack-a-doo fears. So here it is.

I’m afraid of success.

Bizarre, right? I only really realized this in maybe the past six months but the more I think about it, the more I realize this is the thing that sneaks into my head, psyches me out and keeps me playing small. Believe me, I would love to be wildly successful, to be living out my dreams and having a life of abundance. It all sounds great when I think about the plus side of success … to me, that would be more freedom, more travel, more abundance and an awesome second home in Vermont. Things would be fantastic! The thing that scares me about success though, is the idea that in order for me to be truly successful, everything would have to change.

Okay, that might be pushing it. I know that not everything would have to change but there would be some rather large adjustments to be made, which makes me kinda queasy. I’d need to re-examine my work schedule and most likely switch from a predominantly 40-hours a week, employed-by-another-person schedule, where I can still do my own work at night and on weekends, to a part-time employed status paired with a full-time self-employed status. All of that right there is super scary to me.I know plenty of other people who’ve done it and are in the process of making the switch, and I know it wouldn’t be that hard for me to do that myself, but damn, I’d have to become self-sufficient! I could no longer rely on that steady, somewhat reliable income that’s flowing through the doors. I’d need to hustle like I’ve never hustled before in my life. And then what? Does my life become just about my business? Will I lose all sense of what it’s like to have a social life and interests outside of my business?? These are scary prospects!

Then onto another scary idea … if I become successful, does that mean I’ll need to hire people to help me? Will I lose out on doing the things I love to do because I need help to stay on top of everything? What if I’m so busy but still can’t afford to hire people? What if I suck at being a boss? How in the world is my business going to grow if I’m scared of it becoming bigger than me?? Oh man … my palms are totally sweaty just thinking about it! And I feel like that bit of stream of consciousness may have clued you into the monkey chatter that immediately starts to bombard my thoughts when I see things with my business begin to grow. Actually, after writing out all of this, maybe it’s not so much I’m afraid of success but that I’m afraid of change and the unknown (even though I do fairly well navigating the waters with both of those things). I have a really difficult time trying to fathom what things are going to look like in 18 months to 5 years. And a lot of that anxiety comes from not knowing how ANYTHING will work out. Although I guess that’s also what makes things exhilarating. Note to self: the future is exhilarating. Let’s get that queued up as a daily mantra now, shall we?

Erika Dillon is a petite gal with a petite studio who loves a behemoth of a letterpress. She’s a lover of cats, IPA, cheese and has now entered the uncharted territory of planning her 2015 wedding. Follow Erika on Foxtrot Press, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Fear Confessions is a series of essays by creatives who share personal stories about facing their fears. It’s a celebration of vulnerability.

  1. I love that, through the process of writing about one fear, you dug through your feelings and got to the root of something else. Putting things on paper can become a messy therapy session (for me at least!) but sometimes it’s the only way to get to the core of fear.

    You’re actually in a great place because you’re doing work you love and bringing in stable money. There’s a lot of pressure nowadays to flip off The Man, but there’s nothing wrong with a steady paycheck while pursuing your passion.

    Success means something different for each person. Are you happy with your current situation? Be honest with yourself. Maybe you don’t need to change as much as you think to be happy.

  2. When you break it down as maintaining a steady income while doing something I love, I realize that’s a pretty awesome position to be in. And I think you’re right that I don’t have to change as much as I think to be happy… because I am happy with where I’m at now. Perhaps it’s time I redefine what success is. I may be letting what I think success is to everyone else influence my own thoughts on it.

    Thanks for letting me get this one out there. :) I felt a weight being lifted after I wrote this. It puts things into a new perspective for me. :)

    • I’m right there with you, sister. Success and happiness are two things that I think about daily, and just when I think I have it figured out, I don’t. Cheers to the journey.

  3. You are definitely not alone! I have one of the biggest projects I’ll ever take on currently in the works and it is terrifying. To do something and do it well enough to build momentum is scary! It’s even scarier when people who you consider to be your heroes take notice and begin to think of you as a colleague. The future is exhilarating!

    • Congrats and enjoy the momentum! The scariest projects are also the most rewarding.