Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
Last weekend was the one weekend a year that the Husband and I take what amounts to an honest to Gods vacation. We go down to the Portland area with about a hundred of our closest friends, and game all weekend long. So, that’s why there hasn’t been much in the last week. I was still relaxing in the afterglow.
However, afterglows are exceptionally conducive to introspection, so there’s been a lot of that going on around here, as well. Part of the source of the introspection is “What do I want to be when I grow up?” and its attendant anxieties. For example, I am equally as terrified of success as I am of failure. Now, most people can relate to a fear of failure. I mean, no one likes to fail, right? It sucks. Not only did you not succeed/get what you want, but then you’re (usually) catching shit from other people. I think everyone can relate to a fear of failure.
But a fear of success? Yeah… I think, and I could be shining myself on, or completely full of shit, it comes from being the “smart kid.” You know, the one who blew the grading curve in damn near every class. I spent much of my school career pretty much getting straight A’s, but every report card still said, “Not working up to potential” or “You could do so much more.”
So, after a while, I quit trying. I quit doing homework, why bother when I could pass by acing every test they threw at me? And hell, if I wasn’t going to get any satisfaction out of succeeding anyway, what was the point? I’d had straight A’s and was still told I could do better. How? What else was I supposed to do? Cure cancer?
See, success in my life has rarely come with a sense of, “Well done! It’s Miller Time!” It usually comes with a sense, of “Oh Gods, what’s next? What could I have done better? I mean, I know this was good, but was it good enough? I should have done X instead of Y, and it would have been so much better!!”
In my brain, there is no Miller Time.
You think I’m kidding. I’m really not. I’m my own worst critic. Constantly, all the time. This was not helped by having a perfectionist father who would punish you with temper tantrums if you failed, but if you succeeded would greet your success with, “What could you have done better?” When I told him about getting my poetry published several years ago, his response was, “Why wasn’t it a novel?”
So, you see where this comes from.
I have this site, and Geek Girls Rule! and they are awesome, and really poised to go places, and possibly, just possibly, make me some money and get me some real notice, and the closer I get to that, you will notice, the less frequently I post.
Which is stupid.
And I know it’s stupid. And it’s the fear that I won’t succeed, that people won’t want to read this, that I’m fooling myself. Imposter syndrome is frighteningly depressingly common among women in academia, so I know a lot of you out there can relate. But I’m also terrified that I’ll succeed and people will read my stuff and like it, and it will make money, and then… what?
I know I’m not alone in this. I mean, the fear of success and now what? I’ve talked about this with tons of my female friends. They’ve all experienced this some level or another.
So, what do we do about this?
Well, I, for one, have devised a blogging schedule and I’m going to be stricter about making myself stick to it, with extra rewards for blogging more frequently. And I’m trying to put the ulimate goals out of my head, and just focus on the writing. Because, I’ll be straight with you, even when I’m not blogging here, I’m writing. I once had a creative writing professor ask us to introduce ourselves by answering the question, “Why do you write?” My response was, “Because I can’t NOT write.” And it’s true. Even if this never goes anywhere or gets me anything, I’ll still be writing. And I think that’s what I need to focus on. Not on making money, or getting noticed, but just on the writing, because I will always write no matter what, and if you guys dig it? That’s just gravy.
So I totally get the double-header fear of failure/fear of success thing, and I get the impression it’s actually pretty common in the arts (Have you read “art and fear” yet? It’s pretty awesome, I could lend you my copy)
Because my chattering monkey business brain gets so much more societal reinforcement than my art brain, I’ve had to put schedules on *it* — as in, I cannot spend more than 1 hour a week on marketing strategy sort of things. My art brain needs both encouragement and external deadlines (i.e. I will not show up to X convention art show with all the same pieces as last year, so then I actually bust out/FINISH pieces, usually about a week before.) or else they don’t make it properly out of my brain.
Speaking thereof, I have a project I want to float by you.
And I would love to read Art and Fear.