What Is Fear Keeping You From?

SCBWI Retreat in Idaho (with Maggie Rosenthal)

Do you ever feel like you're playing smaller than you want to be in certain areas?

There can be more than one reason for this.

Maybe you lack resources or funds. I understand this. We all have to prioritize where our time, energy, and money go.

Maybe you're just learning how to do something. Usually, we have to suck at something for a good while before we get to be great (or even tolerable) at it. That's a good reason. While it can be frustrating, doing the work will make all the difference in the end.

On the other hand, I've found fear to be my worst reason for not doing what I want to do. It's always there.

  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Fear of disappointing others.

Until the last couple of years, I thought that my fear of disappointing others made me a more responsible person. Earlier this year, I realized that it just made me more comfortable with disappointing myself. One of my friends had to point out that there's a huge difference between helping someone because I feel like I have to . . . and helping someone because I really want to.

So, in an effort to stretch outside my comfort zone this year, I've been saying “no” to others more often, and saying “yes” to myself. I've still said “yes” sometimes when “no” was the right answer, but I'm getting better at it. And it doesn't feel selfish. It feels honest. And it feels brave, especially when saying “yes” costs money or a significant chunk of time. 

Writing retreats and conferences are a great example of an investment that costs both time and money. They're worth it. I attended four of them this year, and I don't regret spending the time or the money. As an introvert, they're definitely outside my comfort zone, but look.

SCBWI Nevada Conference (with Jim Averbeck)
Storymakers Conference (with Jessie Oliveros)
SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles (with SA Students and Instructors)

I recently did something that I would never have done a year ago. I hired an editor. As a freelance editor, I know how valuable a great editor can be, and an editor whose career I've been following (because she's amazing) lost her job in a corporate merger last month. She announced on Twitter that she'd be taking on freelance projects, so I sent her my writing sample and crossed my fingers. 

Photo Credit: Navah Wolfe

And now I have an editorial assessment of my fantasy novel from a Hugo Award-winning editor. That's priceless. 

And I almost let fear talk me out of it. I'm so glad that I've spent this year saying “yes” to myself, instead of “no.”

Take just a moment and think about which fears are holding you back. Now, how can you push out of your comfort zone to do what you need to do?

I want to share this TED Talk, by Yubing Zhang: Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone.

Wasn't that amazing? I'd love to hear about how you're overcoming your fears in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Blog Contributors

Instructor Photo: Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

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