I just finished up the introductory portion of “The Art of Work” course, which mentally readies you to embrace your calling. The last part of the process involves listing your fears, detailing the worst case scenario for each and then actively deciding to pursue it in spite of the fear. When I looked at my list, I recognized that most of my fears revolved around some form of failure or rejection. But after examining the worst case scenarios of these fears, I discovered a far more elusive fear percolating beneath the surface: the fear of acceptance.
Crazy, right? I have spent much of my twenties bouncing between one failure or rejection after another, hoping that I would one day reach the point where I could stop clamoring and actually do what I believe I was meant to. To escape the limbo and stop feeling as though I’m on the precipice of greatness and actually be great. But here’s the truth. As much as I hate sending out resumes and doing interviews for jobs that never call me back or agreeing to meet that guy from online only to be stood up or find out he is far more psychotic than his profile led me to believe, I understand it. It’s familiar, an evil that I know, that rude aunt who I hope ignores me at the family function but for whom I have an arsenal of social defenses. It’s unpleasant, miserable even, but I know how to handle it when I encounter it.
But what if I am accepted? What if I finally snag that big client who wants me to freelance for them or that date turns into a relationship? What then? What am I supposed to do when I actually get what I want? I am equipped for rejection, actually I expect it and sadly, in some cases, I almost prefer it. But this new land, of potential and possibility, frightens me. Because once I am accepted, that’s when the REAL work begins. That’s when I have to show what I’m made of and implement all those plans I’ve been developing over the years. I can no longer just blame the universe for never giving me a chance and return to my Netflix binge watching. It’s at this point I have to demonstrate why I was chosen. I finally have to BE great. And that’s terrifying.
So all this time, my fear of rejection is just as great as my fear of acceptance. Or more so, they are one in the same. Leave it to me to complicate matters. Once I realized this, I began to draft my new worst case scenario. If I actually land that big freelancing gig or finally get my book published, the absolute worst case scenario is that I hate what I’m doing, realizing all my preparation was for naught or that I’m just downright awful and I fall flat on my face. Embarrassing. Mortifying. Tragic.
But I have experienced mortification for things far less important than a calling and worked hard for things I cared absolutely nothing about. So isn’t it better to try, even if it all falls apart? To learn that I am meant for something else now so I can redirect my energies to what I should actually be doing? I have experienced a number of disappointments and have been able to rebound. It hurt, but I lived. What I won’t be able to live with are the almosts and never-beens that will rattle in my brain long after my opportunities have disappeared.
So even under the worst circumstances, I would have to tackle the same beasts I have been struggling with for years. Which means my fears, while still quite present, should not dissuade me. On the contrary, they are essential to my quest of life fulfillment, despite their “suckage.” Time to pause the Hulu autoplay (yeah, I watch a LOT of television) and act, commit, to truly trying. Just “do it afraid,” as Goins suggests in the course, rejection (acceptance) be damned.
The time is now. And I’m completely freaked.