Overcoming Fear: The Struggle Of Pursuing A Dream And Silencing The Negative Voices In Your Head

I am by nature a quiet and introspective kind of person. When I am alone, I’m often found going deep within to reflect on any number of things––myself, people, and situations I may encounter in my day to day life. If you were to get inside my head, it’s constantly swimming in thoughts and emotions I’m trying to process. This is why I tend to keep and write personal journals. It’s an outlet to pour whatever I feel or think in written form. The pages become a vessel to unburden myself from the noise and crowding in my head that may have gotten too difficult to carry for a long period of time. It’s also a form of writing that helps heal me and pushes me to honestly and critically assess myself as I am now and who I still want to be in the future. Among my inner reflections lately has included the ongoing struggle of writing and finishing my novel.

reflection_sunset

Before starting and writing this blog, I’ve always been an avid storyteller. From my teen years and throughout my college life, I wrote Sailor Moon fanfiction for fun after feeling inspired by a number of fanfiction writers who wrote really good stories about their favorite Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask. I had ideas popping into my head and I felt there were stories I really wanted to write that others haven’t really thought of yet. By the time I finished college, post-college life proved to be a struggle for a few years. I became preoccupied with the process of starting a career I could be proud of and it in turn eventually drained away what little motivation I had for some things. This included creative writing.

I started tinkering with an original fantasy novel idea around the time I was finishing school. I had the ideas and themes I wanted for it outlined in a small notebook. I began writing it and kept at it for a while, as I started moving past writing Sailor Moon fanfiction. When life demanded more of my time and energy, the creativity I once relied on to fuel my passion to be a writer snapped under the pressure from personal hardships I was enduring and that creativity remained dormant for many years. I only started reawakening to the idea and pursuit of committing to my novel venture fully in the last two or three years.

I wish I could say it’s extremely easy to jump back into a passion you once loved after many years of leaving it behind for a while. The truth? It’s tough. I revisited the old Word document to recall what it was I was trying to write, but actually writing where I left off or even starting from scratch was a terrifying experience. You may be wondering how a passion you love can be scary. It’s simple really––a number of emotions and thoughts will start invading every corner of your mind, as if the pipes burst and it’s rapidly flooding every empty space you can imagine. You become critical, you know what you want to write but don’t know how to execute it, you never think your writing is good enough, or you think it’s safer to close the Word document and forget you ever wanted to try at all. Many writers, including the best-selling authors, would all agree on this one indisputable fact––we’re our own harshest critic. It comes with the territory of being an artist and creative type.

Reaching a point in my life where you become acutely aware of the fallacy of the phrase “I have all the time in the world to do X,” the reality is we don’t have as much time as we think we do. At least we find ourselves wasting more time than actually using it to our advantage. We tell ourselves we have plenty of time to pursue a goal or dream later until it becomes a go-to phrase to make more excuses as to why we can’t do something. The truth is there may never be a perfect day to get started or a time you’ll ever be ready. I spent the entirety of my 20s putting off what has always been tugging at my heart for a really long time, even in midst of my personal struggles. I chose to ignore the tugging because it got too difficult and it felt easier to not address what I knew would be a difficult venture. Being in my 30s has put certain things into perspective. Fear was the root of keeping me from doing what I know I still wanted to do. I never outgrew writing or my creative mind. It was quietly waiting for me to sit up and take notice of it once again.

The older I get the more I realize I don’t want to live a huge portion of my life with regrets. The voices of what ifs or if onlys tend to get louder and more uncomfortable as time passes. Ignoring or denying any part of what you truly want becomes impossible to do. While I am still young and capable enough, I don’t want to waste away my 30s having done nothing to at least make an effort to pursue my dreams. Among those dreams and goals is finishing the novel I started.

The difficulty about pursuing a dream is the constant struggle to make time for it and ignoring the negative critics in your head. The current process of writing a novel has been filled with challenges, such as being brave enough to dump what’s no longer working and beginning again. No one likes to invest time and effort into a passion project only to discover it’s not clicking the way you want it to. Writing is a process of rewriting and maybe doing some more rewriting. I’ve already thrown out three versions of my novel and I’m currently working on my fourth. You may think I’m crazy, but the only way I’m going to see my novel through to completion is by feeling a flow in my writing than a sense of pushing against a boulder of what’s not working from a narrative standpoint. The draft doesn’t have to be perfect on the first try, but my vision should have most of the pieces falling together as I go back to rewrite and edit it until it’s good enough in my eyes.

Am I still scared? Hell yeah, I’m terrified. Is this something I still want to do and accomplish for myself? Yes, and that yes is far louder than the fear still nestled within the back corners of my mind. Sometimes, our fears and doubts are merely excuses to talk ourselves down from doing something because it’s our way of protecting ourselves from failure and what’s not readily known. We ultimately can’t cave into those kinds of fears because no one will ever get anything done. We stay safe in our comfort zones, and the biggest tragedy is waking up one day realizing you regret not taking the chances that were offered to you because you let your fears get in the way. We only have one life to make the most of what we want and need for ourselves. Playing it too safe or denying what we truly want will only bring unhappiness and misery in the long run.

I crave to live the life I envision for myself and if it means getting uncomfortable and being forced to face my fears, then I rather do that. Life is about fulfilling your purpose and feeling happy doing it. It’d be a great disservice to us all if we didn’t at least try and work towards living a full life, whether it’s slowly saving enough money to travel the world or starting your own business. All that’s required from us is taking that first step and keep going from there.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Overcoming Fear: The Struggle Of Pursuing A Dream And Silencing The Negative Voices In Your Head

  1. This is such a great post. I agree that excuses can happen out of fear more than anything. The biggest one is not having enough time. It’s so true that making time for dreams is really hard as we get older and busier, but it would be sad to give up on them for that reason. And probably for me, part of it is that it’s easier to say, “Oh, it’s hard to find time to write,” than write and fail at it or something. But we just have to do it!

    It’s funny to hear how many versions of your novel you are on, because I am kind of in the same boat! I feel like my ideas have changed for my book, so what I’m writing now is really different than the draft I was writing for NaNoWriMo in 2014, yet it’s an evolution of the same story with a lot of the same characters. I think that’s hardest thing about writing — sometimes the idea in your head is great, but when you actually write it, the tone or something is just off and nothing looks or feels right! So I agree with you that writing is rewriting…

    Anyway, good luck with your novel! Good for you for sticking with it. =)

    1. Thank you! That’s really funny that we seem to be experiencing the same thing when it comes to our own writing! I’ve had too many stuck moments with my current novel and it has been way too easy to just want to close out of the document and leave it sitting in the computer, never bothering to touch it again until “inspiration” comes again. I found it’s impossible to really wait for any inspiration to write something. Inspiration either comes or it doesn’t. More often than not, inspiration hardly ever strikes and then you just never bother to do anything. It’s usually better to just sit at the computer for a certain amount of time and just write. Even if what you write is awful. At least you’re doing something! I also think you tend to find your rhythm once you start writing. This is why I’m going to keep pushing through with this goal no matter how hard it is. 🙂

      So here’s to going after dreams, and good luck with your own novel goals! 🙂

      1. That’s so true, you do get into a rhythm with writing once you start! I have to force myself to get through the first half hour sometimes, like I’m warming up. I agree you can’t wait for inspiration!

  2. Very well said, Simpleek! Good luck to you as you proceed with your novel!

    Creative work takes real commitment if you want to make something your proud of, especially when it comes to editing and revising. If you’re going to get it right, you *have* to get rid of the stuff that doesn’t work, no matter how attached you are to the current version or despite the fear that the next version might not be as good. I’m no writer, but I couldn’t tell you how often I’ve had to completely scrap a visual design because it wasn’t quite right (even if I liked it). You hate doing it, but it has to be done!

    1. Thank you very much! 🙂 I also agree creative work does take a ton of commitment. Then again, the same can be said for just about any passion you truly love. If it’s a calling, something you can’t ignore, then the only thing left to do is to keep at it and not give up.

      It’s definitely hard to let go of aspects of your work you may like but isn’t quite working. However, letting go of it may actually be the thing you need to finally hit the “Eureka!” moment in your work. If you’re too set on keeping what’s not working because you’re scared or don’t like the idea of starting over again, then your work will just stay stuck and it’ll never reach the full potential it needs to. This is why I’ll keep starting over until I hit the strides my story needs to reach. 🙂

  3. I remain in awe of folks who tackle long-form writing, so I wish you all the best with your own work! As long as the drive is there, the inspiration will follow, even if it seem like it might never. And it certainly sound like you have the drive. Surmounting any creative barriers are part of the process, and unpleasant part, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of facing and defeating those obstacles. You can start a project over a million times, but as long as you keep starting it again, you’ll eventually reach that finish line. 🙂

    But boy, those negative voices are a real pain! I wish I had some great advice about how best to ignore them, but honestly, sometimes, they are the best motivators. Because the bottom line is that you CAN accomplish your goals no matter what anyone else might say! And you’ve got to be happy with your work above all else. As long as you have faith in your work and your abilities, the detractors will fall and the believers will follow.

    1. Aww, thanks, Cary! 😀 Your comment is really helpful and inspiring, so thank you for this. It made me feel warm and happy inside to read this. 🙂 Being a writer is tough work! It’s definitely fun creating your own characters and world, but difficult to get your vision just right. Even worse when you hit snags in your writing along the way. You really want to make your story good, but sometimes you’re unsure of how to go about it. This is probably why fear can easily take over in these moments. You rather quit than forge ahead! I’ve already been down that road and it doesn’t really help to just shelve it and forget about it. Sooner or later, especially when you love it so much but you’re just scared, your passion comes back knocking until you can’t ignore it. I’m struggling with my writing every day, but I keep telling myself to just keep going and I have to finish this goal for myself. I think the long-term payoff, finishing the novel, will be extremely satisfying when I get there.

      I think you’re right about the negative voices also acting as motivators in some way, at least as long as you don’t cave into the fear aspect of those voices to keep you from doing what you know your heart wants you to do. It’s kind of like talking back to them by saying, “Oh yeah? You think I can’t do this? Watch me prove you wrong!” I’ve experienced naysayers in my life who try to dissuade me from doing something or make me believe I can’t achieve this in other areas of my life. As a result, it only fueled my determination to succeed even more! Sure the road has been painful and difficult, but somehow, I have succeeded through my own sheer will and persistence alone. That to me makes a world of difference.

  4. Great post! Don’t give up, as another who had and has similar thoughts bouncing around in my head. I took a leap in my late 20’s to study audio production, moved to another city, and moved again, and do not regret it. Am I living the life I wanted? Not at the moment, but you bet I am working at it and not just wasting my time and money away.

    Those negative voice can be a real pain, and sometimes they will keep coming from your family, old friends, coworkers, anyone that want to pull you down to their misery level just to feel they are not alone.

    Keep working at it!

    1. Thank you! Sometimes, all you need to do is take a leap of faith and try. All changes or new ventures will always seem scary or impossible at first, but once you get going, you soon realize it was worth the chance. At least if I fail spectacularly, I know I gave it my all and I won’t go on wondering what it would be like if I took that plunge. No regrets!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s