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Getting Over the Fear of Trying

Getting Over the Fear of Trying

Man with long brown hair in striped romper posing by a yellow "no outlet" sign

I’m often hesitant when it comes to getting the things I really want.

Or I don’t try enough. I don’t give it my all, and make far too many excuses and justifications. Oh, completing all of these tasks was too ambitious. I didn’t really want that huge, light-filled room with the cheap rent — the people I would’ve been living with were too strict. I’m not ready for a committed relationship with that person who makes everyday life feel like an adventure. I don’t know if I want to work with that brand with the dresses that take my breath away because <insert other bullshit reason here> …

Recently I’ve been feeling stuck — stuck feeling like I wasn’t performing at work, stuck in the tiny 10 x 10 shoebox I pay almost $2k for every month (yay SF rent!), stuck with not knowing what to blog about. My life has been living me, not the other way around, as if I were a little automaton going through the motions while dealing with all of these conflicted thoughts in my head.

The problem

This is what’s keeping me stuck: I’m afraid of trying because I am super rejection-adverse. I hate losing and failing and I take it personally even though I know I shouldn’t, so when I actually do get rejected/fail, I not only feel bad about the failure, but I also get pissed at myself for feeling like there’s something wrong with me. Ah, the classic feeling bad about feeling bad. Gotta love those meta-feelings, amirite?

To make this even more meta, I feel bad about feeling bad about feeling bad, because I actually really dislike emotions and wish that I were an automaton that operated on logic alone. [1] So when I put myself out there and don’t get what I want, I get caught up in a giant meta-feeling shitstorm of my own making.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shy or timid in the least and I have no inherent hesitations about putting myself out there. The problem is that the things I completely put myself out there for are things I don’t really really care about, so there’s no real fear of trying or of rejection. And then I get them, but they’re not what I really want, so I end up feeling stuck.

Wonderful, right? I’m really living my best life. #Goals! ?

The solution

I’ve been practicing getting over my fear of trying for the things I really want. When I get a less-than-optimal result, I practice just letting the feeling pass through me — observing it without judgment — and firmly tell myself that, just because I didn’t get something I really cared about doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with me.

The more I do it, the easier it gets. I moved my desk to be right next to more experienced developers so that I can pick up new skills more easily. I asked that person who made everyday life feel like an adventure to be in a relationship with me (which was one of the most uncomfortable conversations I’ve ever had — I still cringe to think of how that went down, to be honest). I applied for a gorgeous room in a Victorian house with bay windows and pink walls.

The results

I 2xed my programming productivity! And I’m now dating that person! Holy shit! Sadly, I did not get the room, but that was another opportunity to put nonjudgmental emotional observation into practice.

What all these recent experiences taught me was that putting myself out there for the real things I cared about while admitting that I did give a shit was worth it. The payoff when things do work out is well worth the pain when it doesn’t.

An ongoing effort

I’m still afraid of trying. Settling often seems like a better option — it’s an easy win, and it makes me look good, and I’ll never have to admit how much I care about something. This is especially true if the thing I’m settling for isn’t far from what I really want. But it’s still settling, so every time I’m tempted to do that, I take a few moments and redirect myself. I admit that I’m afraid to try and then I force myself to admit that I care, and then I do it.

Sometimes shit works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m finally getting unstuck. ♚

Notes

[1] All the people who are reading this who know me in real life are laughing right now, because they know how much I want to be a robot. And if you don’t know me, fear not! An “I Fucking Hate Feelings” post is imminent.

View Comments (2)
    • Hey Jessa,

      By “nonjudgmental emotional observation”, I mean to observe my emotions without judging them or adding meta-emotions on top of them. For example, when it came to not getting the room I wanted, I simply noticed that I felt disappointed and allowed myself to feel that way, rather than forcing positivity or judging myself for being disappointed. Does that make sense?

      Mimi

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