Monday, July 11, 2011

Terrified of Failure--Terrified of Success

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?"

- Marianne Williamson

Confession time, gang.

I always thought this quote was bullshit until three days ago.  Why would anyone be afraid of success?  Now... I understand it for the first time in my life.

Well, what the heck happened three days ago, you ask?  Some weird new pattern started that is now scaring the hell out of me.

Last Friday I saw an uptick in my book sales. I'd been selling a modest 3-10 a day (which for me was a great improvement over the last couple of weeks of June), and was hoping above hope that maybe I could double my sales this month and hit somewhere in the 250-300 sales range total.  Well, Friday I sold 29 books.

"What the heck, Friday? Why are you being weird," I thought.  My Fairytale Assassin short stories No Rest for the Wicked had started selling for free over at Amazon the day before, and I was super excited to see if it drove my other sales higher.  My Alter Ego also had a story go free, so yay! Double interested to see what happened.

I woke up on Saturday morning and wandered over to the computer to compulsively check my sales, per usual, and cocked my head to one side at the oddly inflated numbers before me. This has to be some sort of mistake, or perhaps Amazon is playing a cruel joke on me, a-la the pigs blood dumped on Carrie.  This cannot possibly be the correct number.

I checked my stats, then I checked my rankings, then I checked my pulse because I felt like I was having a heartattack.  I sold 207 e-books on Saturday between my two names.  Earlier that week I'd been stoked because I'd broken 7.

My heart was hammering out of my chest all day, and I realized, much to my surprise and dismay, that I was terrified out of my skull. 

This shouldn't be happening, or at least not to me. It had to be a fluke, and everything would be normal again the next day. I would go back to slow-and-steady, dreaming of a successful future that was always just out of reach. All would be as it should be.

Yesterday, I sold 215 books, and today I'm already nearing 120 with my busiest time of day ahead of me.  I've now sold 620-something books this month, and if this continues, I'll have sold 4600 by month's end. 

I feel like I'm a hampster and an eagle just spotted me from above.

I'm sweaty, and I haven't been sleeping well.  I keep waking up in the middle of the night and feeling the anxiety coursing through me.

If sales keep doing this, I'll be able to quit my day job and start living my dream in 2-3 months.  Yet... I'm more scared about this journey than ever before.  Why?

Because, I'm not worthy.

Sure, I've worked hard, but it's too good, so it shouldn't be happening to me.

I feel guilty.  I don't deserve this.

Why do I get to live my dream?  Why do I get to be lucky?

Why am I being given this gift?  This opportunity?

I finally get the quote.

Yesterday I told my husband my fears that I don't deserve this.  He's a rational dude, so he pointed out that I've been struggling on the journey to become a full time writer for years now.  I've been writing my entire life, and working toward getting published since easily 2005 if not earlier.  I've studied, I've honed my craft.  I've written, and written, and written.  I've put in a shit ton of hours on this dream.

Why shouldn't I get a bit of luck?  Why am I so scared of achieving my goal?

The other half of that quote spoke to me today as I was looking it up for this post:

"You are a child of God, small games do not work in this world. For those around us to feel peace, it is not example to make ourselves small. We were born to express the glory of god that lives in us. It is not in some of us, it is in all of us. While we allow our light to shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others."

How cool is that? :)

I felt peace reading that just now, because I want that.  I want to give others permission to dream upon seeing that I'm seeking mine out and achieving it.  I want to express God's glory in my life.

I want others to have the boldness to shine and to allow myself to do the same.

If this is my time to achieve my dream, then it will be an example to other folks out there ready to take that first step.  We CAN do this.  This is possible!

We can shine together.

... so why am I still a little freaked out? :P

What about you?  Do you fear success as much as failure?  Why or why not?


Steph said...

I know that it's completely cheesy and I'm preggo and hormonal, but I totally teared up reading this. So inspiring and SO SO WORTHY AND DESERVING, my friend!!
This is amazing and I am beyond thrilled for you!! Enjoy it and be proud of your success! :)

Steph said...

Also, to answer your question, no, I don't (yet) fear success. But I haven't really had a taste of it, so I may change my answer! ;)

Jolene Perry said...


I can TOTALLY see how this would freak someone out - even though I'm not there yet.

Nice post, and definitely gives us all something to think about.

Rebecca said...

That is awesome, and you DO deserve it! You've worked hard for it.

Success still feels too far-off to be scary for me. I'll let you know if that changes. :-) said...

Hi Rebecca! I came to your post via a Twitter post from Stephanie. I'm so glad I did :) Super congrats to you! that is AWESOME! I am going to keep checking in on you! I wish you had a twitter because I'd tweet you because I want everyone to have their dreams come true! You say you want to quit your job in 2-3 months to write full time, I'm believing for you that it will happen!

Yes, great quotes! God created the ENTIRE world. We weren't created to do little things. God wants to use us as much in us as we allow HIm :). I agree with you! "We were born to express the glory of God that lives in us" :)

Mboyd1978 said...

Don't be too surprised! You put in the work and now you are reaping what you've sown. Remember this also - July and August are notoriously the slowest months in e-book sales...just wait until December and your numbers will probably blow your mind!

Rebecca Knight said...

Steph: Thank you so much! I teared up a little, too, and I don't even have a good excuse.

Jolene: I'm glad you get it, and thank you! Hopefully it will be your problem soon, too ;). Anxiety loves company!

Rebecca: Please do! :) Best of luck to you in everything, friend.

Lacy: Welcome, and thank you so much for your kind words. My Twitter is actually @twoheadknight for anyone who wants to hang out over there.

Matt: Thanks, dude! Also, if sales slow down, I won't panic. I hope to report an awesome fall and winter. Best luck to you, too, Mr. ZNA Author!

Ethan said...

Way to go! You've worked hard. I always see you out making a name for yourself on twitter, kindleboards, etc. and your writing is fun! I hope you sell millions of books. Congrats.

Callie Kingston said...

Rebecca, you totally deserve this, and I feel proud to be a part of your journey. I'm also thrilled you are finding success and it gives me such inspiration. And, I love that quote.

Kzee said...

Lovely inspiring post Rebecca. It certainly gives us hope! :)

Raymund Hensley said...

Awesome post! ^_^

Michael E. Walston said...

Good for you!

You've been making effort and expending energy in the realm of writing for many years, it sounds like. So now it's finally paying off, and yes, you absolutely deserve it.

Thanks for sharing. I've been writing all my life too, and your story inspires me a lot.