Some days I realize I am afraid of my own greatness. It may seem paradoxical- considering the path I am on- but it is true. Sometimes the thought that I can actually become everything that I set out to be is frightening. And I know that if I am not careful or honest with myself, I will sabotage opportunities that come my way out of fear – a fear that manifests itself in so many ways – procrastination, insecurity, questioning my gift and abilities or finding an excuse instead of finding a way.
Case in point, sometime ago I found out about a journalism fellowship with a very prominent news organization. When I read the requirements and qualifications, I was beyond ecstatic. Working at the newspaper where I am currently employed enabled me to have solid experience and a large enough portfolio to qualify me for the fellowship. So I set about arranging my portfolio – I selected my six best news articles, wrote a cover letter but didn’t send in my application right away. As the days wore on, I kept thinking to myself, ‘there’s no way you’ll get this, they’re picking four students nationwide and there are others (Ivy League students) who have accomplished way more than you.’ I read and re-read my articles and all of a sudden they didn’t seem good enough. Finally, I made the mistake of mentioning to someone that I was thinking of applying and they said, “well perhaps you should get a plan b, you know because that’s really exclusive and almost impossible to get into.” Before you know it deadline was approaching and my application still had not been submitted. Then on the very last day I thought “you know what I’ll never know if I never try” and so I went to send in my application, but the site crashed and I missed my chance.
All because I allowed fear to get the best of me.
While I try not to live in regret, I know I sabotaged myself and that was the difficult part to accept. Because worst case scenario, if my portfolio wasn’t good enough, I just wouldn’t have gotten a call back and it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Wasn’t I the same student who went to get an internship and ended up with an actual job? If anything, my real world experience could have given me an advantage. But now I’ll never know.
It’s one thing when someone cheats you out of an opportunity then you can be the victim and have someone to blame. It’s an entirely different thing when that someone is you.
I think it was Bishop Jakes who said, sometimes it isn’t the enemy, sometimes the enemy is ME.
So I had to have a serious heart to heart with myself – what am I truly afraid of?
The fear that I may not have what it takes. The fear that I will one day be forced out of obscurity and I will have to reveal myself. Or even worse, the fear that the light will shine on me and expose the fact that I’m almost always afraid and unsure.
But bigger than that, is the fear that I AM capable – that I actually have within me everything it takes to win. The realization that I could actually make it, that it is very possible to be and to have everything I ever dreamed of, is frightening.
Because what would that now require? It would require me to let go of my shame, let go of my doubts, my insecurities and my excuses. Truth is, as much as they have shackled me, I am so used to holding on to them. And without them, what am I left with? Who do I have to become?
Marianne Williamson said “It is not the dark that frightens us, it is the light.”
Without our crutches, who are we?
No matter how much we desire change, the fact is, the future is frightening and it is human nature to fear the unknown. But this missed opportunity taught me how to use fear to propel me into action. I use it as a direct indication that if it is trying to hold me back, then there is something on the other side of it that I need to see.
So even though I may feel fear, I try not to operate from it. For what is fear but a deep seated feeling of inadequacy? And how can that be true? With God, am I not enough? Indeed, in Him, I can do all things. With this in mind, daily, I remind myself – I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Father, I pray my fears won’t derail me and my weaknesses won’t betray me. Lord, please, deliver me from myself.