Admitting it is the first step...
It's easy as a small business owner, a creative, a mom, and a woman to pretend like I have it all together. Some days I might even actually have it all together (or most of it). But other days... Other days it's all I can do to get dressed and not yell at anyone. Some days it's hard not to let my fears win. So, I'm stepping out on a limb here and guessing that many of you have felt the same way from time to time. Afraid, overwhelmed, frustrated. And I want you to know that you're not alone. I'll kick us off with 9 things I personally am really afraid of.
1. Missing out on my son's childhood
As any working parent knows, mom (or dad) guilt can creep in at any time, and the hours you spend working, or even desperately trying to catch up on some sleep, can make you feel guilty when you see how quickly your children are growing up. Let alone carving out personal self-care time (ha!). The advice I've been trying to give myself, and that I'll give you here, is to take a deep breath. Recognize that you're doing the best you can. Make little efforts to be more present with your children when you are spending time with them, and that's what they'll remember. At least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself anyway.
2. Never being good enough
Admittedly, I have classic over-achiever syndrome, which has led me to some really significant accomplishments but also some really neurotic thinking about what "good enough" really means. (Hint: It doesn't mean perfect, even though sometimes that's how it feels.) I have a tendency to never view anything I do as good enough, and that leads me into my next fear...
3. Being Unlovable
There, I said it. Unlovable. That's probably one of my biggest fears right there, maybe at the root of all my other ones to be honest. This fear presents itself in the worry that if I'm not perfect (and of course, no one is), that I won't be lovable. That's it's not who I am that matters, but what I do. This type of thinking is a slippery slope, because if to be loved, one has to be perfect, then that means there's no hope of being loved. Now, I know that isn't really true, and that feelings aren't facts, but that's a mighty big feeling to just ignore, and it's something I work on constantly.
4. That I won't be taken seriously as a creative business owner because I still have a full-time job
This is a tough one. I love my job! I work for an employee-owned benefits administration company that has a strong female leadership team, and a great atmosphere. I have 14 people that work directly for me, and I really appreciate them, and love the opportunity to help them develop professionally! But there's a big stigma for small business owners that you haven't "made it" until you've quit your day job to do your creative pursuits full-time. And honestly, I have bought into that lie in the past, and still do sometimes. But, what that stigma doesn't take into account is the unique circumstances we all find ourselves in. A person might love their creative career as an outlet, but need a more steady income than it can provide on it's own. Why shouldn't they do both? Another creative business owner might have a strong passion for both their day job and their creative work, and if that's the case, why should they have to limit themselves? I used to hide the fact that I had a full-time job and I'm super done with that. I'm going to try to normalize and de-stigmatize creatives who do more than one thing, because if anyone can pull that off, it's small business owners who know how to get creative with their time!
5. That I won't be able to stop obsessing about my weight
I have struggled with weight for as long as I can remember, and while I exercise more regularly, and eat more healthily, than I ever have in my life, I'm at one of my highest adult weights right now. I don't hold these types of unrealistic standards for other people, but going back to that 'never good enough' fear, I feel like not being able to lose weight is an outward expression of me failing at... something? Not exercising hard enough or often enough (even though I'm very consistent). Not restricting myself enough (I live in Wisconsin for goodness sake! Do you know how much cheese there is here?!) And while I have struggled with this, and will likely continue to struggle with it, I've been really trying to remind myself that a life well-lived is worth more than a number on the scale. I exercise, I eat healthily most of the time, and I can still enjoy a brownie or a beer and the world isn't going to end. And the world isn't going to end if I can't fit into those jeans again. And on the flip side, my life isn't going to suddenly start just because I lose weight. My life is now, and I'll enjoy it whatever size I am, and hope that my friends and family love me unconditionally enough to support that stance.
I get it. Most of us are afraid of failure. I mean, it's FAILURE, of course it's scary. I'm afraid that maybe I'm not actually good at anything or maybe I'm not cut out to be a small business owner or a manager or <insert whatever thing I'm currently worried about> and the list goes on and on and on. I don't really have any words of wisdom other than failing doesn't make you a bad person. It doesn't make you unworthy. And if I do fail (as I sometimes will), it's the fact that I can learn from that and move forward that is important, not avoiding failure in the first place, which, as we all well know, isn't always possible.
Yeah, I know. Seems weird to be afraid of success when you're really worried about failure, but hear me out. What if I'm successful and then more people are counting on me and then I mess up?! What if I'm successful and it turns out that all those times I failed before were because I wasn't trying hard enough or I wasn't perfect or because I ate that second (okay, third) cookie. What then? Well... Who cares. It's fine. I'll be as successful as I can be, and accept failure graciously when it happens (probably with some crying because that's how I roll), and then move on about my day. It's the only thing to do really.
8. That I will witness or experience something completely wacky and that no one will believe me
Okay, this is a silly fear, admittedly, but seriously! Hasn't anyone else ever worried about this? It used to keep me up at night as a teenager worrying that something really weird would happen, I'd tell someone about it, and they'd have me locked up because they thought I was crazy. This is still an irrational fear that plagues me from time to time, and I just have to acknowledge it, and let it pass, and kind of chuckle at myself for being a little silly.
9. That people will find out I'm a fraud
Impostor Syndrome; The struggle is real. I feel like a kid who is playing dress-up like 90% of the time. I didn't feel like a real adult when I started my business or had my kid or bought my house or got a divorce or got a 'real' job or got remarried or any of those things. Which means I'm starting to think there isn't anything I'm going to be able to do to feel legit anytime soon. I constantly worry about people thinking I'm a fraud or that I don't belong <insert some place I totally do probably belong>. So, since I'm not likely to stop feeling like a fraud or an outsider, the least I can do is be myself, even if I'm sometimes kind of immature, sometimes kind of an old lady (8 PM bedtime anyone?) and sometimes just a weird, goofy person. If I'm as authentic as possible, and people still don't like or respect me, at least they don't like and respect the real me, and I can live with that.
So there, friends. Those are 9 of my biggest fears, some silly, some not, but all a big part of who I am. Be brave today and share one of your fears in the comments section. *solidarity*