We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. –Plato
It’s one thing when your ego tells you that you are not up to a task, but it’s harder to fight fear when those closest to you feed your hangups as well. My story would have a different outcome if only I had remembered three simple words: YES I CAN.
Often, we are quick to dismiss an opportunity because our ego has already decided that we will fail at it. We’ve heard the phrase that when one door closes, another one opens. This is fitting for when you cannot control an outcome and someone has closed the door on you. Perhaps you were made redundant at your job, or you didn’t get the artist grant that you applied for, or your poetry was rejected for publication, and so on.
When it’s your own hand that closes the door, be sure that you’re not making a fear-based decision like I did.
I had an opportunity arise after a successful project that I ran. Word of my success had reached an advertising firm in Melbourne and I received a phone call from the director of the firm. My project had impressed him because it was the first time he had seen social media being used to achieve a very public objective. He was so buzzed about it that he wanted his team to see my project as a fresh and exciting way to show initiative.
What was the opportunity?
I was asked to go to Melbourne and meet his team, talk to them and tell my story. The goal? For my project details to motivate and inspire his team.
While I was flattered and humbled at being asked, it was beyond daunting. Simply put, I was terrified. I froze with fear at what was expected of me, and what a motivating and inspiring talk should sound and look like.
I spoke to my family members about the request. They were just as surprised as I was. The first thing they wanted to know was if he was paying for it. I told them, no. What followed: You’re not very good at speaking in public. You’re too shy. You don’t have what it takes to engage a group in that way. Words to that effect, but the gist of their response was: you will flounder.
And I listened to it all. Don’t get me wrong about my family, they are very loving. They were just mirroring what I felt about myself.
Needless to say, I didn’t take up the firm’s offer. And I regret it to this day.
I know there’s a pretty good chance that I would not have performed well by showing zero charisma, stumbling and stammering, and generally allowing my nerves to get the better of me. However, I am confident that something good would have come out of it. Because something always does. I let the opportunity go, thinking I was saving myself from embarrassment due to being out of my depth.
Who knows how many other opportunities died as a result of that decision. I was also saying no to a chance to grow and face a debilitating fear. I took the easy way out.
To feel better about declining, I told myself that at least I would not be out of pocket.
Today, I would not let that stop me; I would raise the funds to get myself there. For those trying to get their art noticed, and trying to build a platform, you know as well as I do that the world is getting noisier; attention is almost a luxury. I was offered a stepping stone with building my credibility as a creative and I simply said: No Thanks.
It Is Not A Complete Waste When You Understand The Lessons To Be Learnt
Here’s what I realised. It was never expressed by the director that I was to be a female Jack Canfield and blow them all away. I sabotaged the opportunity when I planted that idea in my mind, and expected that of myself. I had forgotten that it wasn’t my awkward public-speaking skills that caused me to succeed in my project. It was my photography; my self-expression and perspective via my creativity. Savour faire wasn’t what the director was asking of me. It was my story. They wanted to meet the person behind the voice of the project.
This is what it looks like when you let fear govern your path. When you are handed an opportunity, keep a positive outlook and remember your strengths. Don’t do what I did and think of everything that could go wrong. Think of everything that can go right. Even though I would have had to invest in the trip, I believe it would have been worth it. Every cent.
[share-quote author=”” via=”iamgenevra”] Don’t do what I did and think of everything that could go wrong. Think of everything that can go right.[/share-quote]
My family did encourage my fear but I accept responsibility for that because I chose to give in and believe them. I was projecting my insecurities and the notion that I would fail when I let the request become a topic of discussion for them. I put my destiny in their hands. The today version of myself understands that I create my own destiny.
What opportunities do you wish you had not passed on?
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