This is one of many Fear Confessions in which creatives share personal stories about facing their fears. Let’s celebrate vulnerability with Joanna Waterfall as she shares her fear of disappointing people.
Ah, disappointment. It’s the word that stings so much more than yelling and screaming ever will. It’s when someone comes up to you and tells you ever so kindly, that they’re not mad, they are disappointed. Ouch. As a teenage girl I hated to hear my dad say this to me when I was caught doing something wrong. And I still have a deep fear of it.
I’ve always been a people pleaser. I have always tried to bend over backwards for people just to make them like me. Or I would keep words and comments to myself, out of fear of not offending anyone or hurting their feelings. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown more confident in myself where I don’t feel the desire to please as much as I used to, but that 16-year-old, people-pleasing girl still creeps up from time to time. She’s not completely gone.
Whenever you do something worthwhile, there are risks involved. One of those risks you take is disappointing people and having them not be pleased with what you are doing (or what you didn’t do while you were doing it). It’s just something that you have to accept. As much as I know this in my head, it’s difficult for me to accept it in my heart.
It’s one thing to deal with “haters.” The ones who are making anonymous unkind comments from behind a screen. That I can deal with (even though it might hurt a little). But the thing that I’m really afraid of is disappointing a person who I respect, love and care for. Someone who I get where they are coming from and can see eye to eye with. These are the people I’m afraid to disappoint, because then it’s not someone unhappy with their life who needs to make yours just as bad – it’s something I’ve actually done wrong. That’s hard to face. It’s not easy being wrong and facing your selfishness.
How I deal with this: Remembering I’m human. I’m going to make mistakes and I’m not perfect. Knowing that nothing has to be permanent and you can learn from mistakes you’ve made. It’s okay to not have it all together. It’s okay to mess up. So if I end up disappointing someone I know and love, I remember how I am a mistake-making human, try and remedy where I can and keep moving forward.
Within this category of disappointing people, I’m also afraid of telling people no in one way or another. I wish I could just be the “yes” girl. Not disappointing anyone, allowing them to feel happy feelings and go along their merry way. But what I’m learning is in the long run, being able to say “no” – in whatever way you have to – is not only better for you, but better for that person. The times I’ve said yes where I shouldn’t have, the mission isn’t accomplished in the best way, the person doesn’t learn or grow, and neither do I. Learning to allow someone to feel uneasy for a short amount of time is better than making them happy for a few minutes, only to be more disappointed in the long run.
So my friends, these are things I’m working and thinking through. Many fears come up in different seasons of life. Fear is something that can ruin dreams, relationships and careers. It’s a horrible thing that I try every day to be rid of in any way I can.
When I have fear, I try to have courage and act in spite of that fear. I might be afraid of telling someone no, but I’ll do it anyway. That’s courage. It takes away the power that fear has over us. So ladies and gentlemen, do not let fear rule your life. It’s a feeling that will come and go, but you don’t have to allow it to control you. Let go of fear and hold onto a full life.
Joanna Waterfall is a graphic designer, sometimes blogger, and the founder / organizer of The Yellow Conference, a gathering for creative women who want to use their skills, gifts and talents to spread good. In her spare time she co-leads a high school small group and helps run a human trafficking awareness group at her church. She lives in Burbank, CA, and is usually found with a cup of hot coffee in her hands, no matter how warm it is outside.
Image credit: Joanna Waterfall