“It’s easy for you. You don’t care what people think,” a friend recently said when I tried to encourage her to try something new. It’s not true of course, but I do have an advantage that I learned early. Something I want to share with you.

I used to be afraid of disappointing people. I wanted to be liked.

Then one day that changed. I must have been about seven when a friend of mind saw the book I was reading. She crunched up her face in disgust and said, “Why are you reading that baby book?”

The ‘baby book’, filled with gorgeous pictures, happened to be one of my favorites. I’d wanted to dig a hole and jump inside, before I realized I had a choice to make. I could lie and say it was for my baby cousin, I could put it away in my backpack and stop reading it so she wouldn’t think less of me or keep reading and not care.

I chose not to care—enough. Sure her opinion hurt and I felt the sting of embarrassment by her disdain, but I LOVED that story and I didn’t want to stop reading it or stories like it to make her happy.

Sure, I got teased by choosing to keep reading those types of stories, until my friend (and others) got bored and decided to focus on teasing someone else (like the kid who enjoyed licking the walls).

Since then I’ve disappointed people with my chosen profession (You had such potential, why are you doing this?).

With the genres I chose to write in (You studied literature and want to write this garbage?)

As a published author (Why did you write this instead of that?)

But I’m here to tell you that while all your fears won’t disappear, what you choose to fear can.

Instead of being afraid of disappointing others, I became more afraid of disappointing myself.

As a writer, instead of worrying about how people will hate my work, I worry more about not writing at all.  I’m terrified of not creating something; a life without creativity is something I fear the most so that gets me to the keyboard (sketchbook, notepad etc…) each time.

I fear not knowing something more than looking stupid and not asking a question to understand.

So your turn.

Think of a fear you have that’s stopping you. How can you switch it to get you what you really want?

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