fear of failure… and success.

I have a fear of failure. That’s no surprise. But I also have a fear of success. And that’s messed up.

These fears… both of them… are spitting all over my life.

Finding a job
I’m afraid I’ll never find one that’s even close to what I need: Something that makes financial sense if it’s not flexible enough to allow me to be here for my kids. Or something that is flexible enough but not so far down the ladder that I feel degraded. A decent location so I’m closer for kids’ activities if I don’t have to make them quit because I’m not available at all. And, you know, something where I won’t have to make them quit. Ooh, and something I might even like a little. Maybe those things don’t sound ‘necessary’ to you, but for me… they’re kind of deal-breakers.

But I’m also afraid I will find a job. And then… I have to go there. And have a job. I realize this is totally stupid, but I was laid off a while back and I’ve been out of work for quite some time. Change scares the hell out of me. Right now, having a job would be a huge change. Of course, having no money is pretty bad, too.

So… fear of not finding what I’m looking for scares me… and fear of finding what I’m looking for scares me, too. And both make it a huge struggle for me to take action at all. Sucks.

Earning something through this blog
I hate ads – obnoxious flashy blinky crap… pop-ups all over the place. No. I bail on blogs like that. I don’t want to be one. I could sell something. Confession: I have things for sale… right now… online… I’ve just been afraid to mention it because I worry it’ll come across as obnoxious. I have thought of asking for donations to help support the blog. But that seems even more obnoxious… and pathetic. I have an Amazon affiliate account but I’ve never posted a link because, again, obnoxious. Apparently, anything a salesperson does feels obnoxious to me.

But why can’t I even try? Why am I afraid it might work? Something might work? And if it does, why the hell didn’t I do something a long time ago? I feel like I have this fear of succeeding. I know… that doesn’t even make sense! If I succeed with any of this, will it be enough to drop the job search? Doubtful. So I’ll have to get a job. Then… will I have time to continue? Will I be able to keep up? Will I have my shit together? Have the drive to continue? What if I can’t do it? I know… what if I can? Thinking that way is going to take some serious brain-training… which hasn’t taken yet.

Even if I think I have some cool things for sale (or maybe they suck)… Even if I have great ideas (I think)… Even if I’ve collected lots of tips and info — I’m still afraid to try. I always think I’m not good enough. And I get crazy-anxious. Why???

Publishing (in any way)
I’m not big on rejection. (I know… who is?) Because of that, I don’t know that pursuing an agent and/or a traditional publisher is for me. And I fear that self-publishing will end in no or very few sales so it will be a lot of effort and investment for nothing (and it would likely nix traditional publishing forever which I don’t have the stamina to pursue anyway so why does that matter?). Again… I’m afraid I’m not good enough. And I’m afraid I’m incapable of all that’s involved in making it happen anyway. (See above… I am no salesperson.)

But I’m also afraid to get too close… to succeed. Which is so stupid. What’s scary about that? I don’t even know how to explain this. If I have success with one piece of work, then I’ll need more to sell. Will I be able to come up with anything? Will it be any good? Can I sustain such a thing? Will all of my effort be for nothing? Will I even able to do what needs to be done to get there in the first place?

This is why I have such heightened anxiety when I even think about doing anything related to publishing. I start thinking it’s what I’m supposed to do… what I should do. So not doing it is bad, but it feels impossible, so doing it is bad. Such a mess.


I worry way too much. I know, I’m a fucking genius! This is not new information. It’s the curse of being an overthinker (one of them, anyway). If I could just stop at the idea and do it, I’d be good. But no… I think about everything until I’ve made myself so anxious and scared that I’m paralyzed. Self-sabotage. It’s not conscious. Even though I know I do it… I don’t realize it’s happening when it’s happening.

I know the answer. A slogan so overused it’s a cliché.

Just do it.

Ahh… you have no idea how much I wish it was that simple. For me.

©2017 what sandra thinks

About what sandra thinks

Sandra is a writer, blogger, poet, artist, emotional disaster. She thinks far too much and sleeps far too little. Sandra lives in the Northeastern U.S. but dreams of an oceanfront home in Italy, but she would settle for a non-oceanfront home in Italy, too. She loves books, brutal honesty, coffee, and the color black. She hates insincerity, beer, whipped cream, and facebook. And she is uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person.
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39 Responses to fear of failure… and success.

  1. magarisa says:

    Fear of success may be ‘messed up’, but it’s common. I have it too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I figured I wasn’t the only one. It just sounds so ridiculous when I say it… ‘fear of success’. If I let it control me, I’ll never have success because I’ll stay stuck… so what’s there to be afraid of?

      Liked by 1 person

      • magarisa says:

        Humans are irrational beings. Having said that, I can still try to make sense of why I personally fear success. For me, it’s the deep-seated belief that I’m not good enough to succeed, and that even if I appear to others to be successful, I’m just an imposter and will be uncovered as the fraud I am sooner or later.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate on the job thing. I put off applying for a better job for so long because where I am is easy. Soul destroying, but easy and I feel like anything complicated Will drive me into a meltdown. I have no idea what the solution is. Maybe it’s knowing that the alternative is much worse than what we’re afraid of? Or knowing that deep down being unhappy in the present is much worse than putting yourself out there and not being afraid of failure or success? I have no idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s exactly why I stayed so long at my last job… it was easier than finding something else… even though it was soul-sucking. The thought of a change like a new job scared me so much I never pursued it. Now, after being laid off and out of work for too long, I still fear getting a new job… but I don’t have the ‘easy’ one anymore to hang on to. What I know now is that money is an issue (it’s always an issue and I hate it)… a growing one right now… and something’s going to have to happen…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can relate to most of what you said…the kids, the job, the proximity, the fear of failure and fear of success, self publishing and it related sales issues….I felt as if someone was narrating my story 🙂 I have been out of job too long for the sake of kids..now I do want to get back but I have completely lost the self confidence and getting a decent job after a long break in India is like hell. I resorted to blogging but like you said it doesn’t pay! I can only wish luck and courage to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the longer the break from having a job here makes it harder to get hired, too. I hate myself for that — not working for so long. It has been great for my kids but I’m afraid I’ve messed up my whole life. Self-confidence is a huge problem for me, too. I wish I could offer suggestions, too. But I do wish you luck and courage as well. Thanks so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Laughable Cheese says:

    I know what you mean I feel like a bundle of fears professionally. I just try as best as I can to separate myself from the fear. It doesn’t always work though

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I completely understand where you’re coming from. More means being responsible for more. I used to be content to have zero responsibility, only to myself and my whims. I liked to tell myself I was free and untethered to anything or anyone. But in reality, the thought of a wife and kids and mortgages and jobs and bosses and bills simply freaked my shit. I can promise you this, that without someone there to motivate me and give me a reason to and to help give me confidence, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wish that you had that. That person to boost you up and hold you accountable and to give you your reason to.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do long for the days of (little or) no responsibility. I know that’s such an immature, selfish attitude, but the way things are now, I can’t help it. Most of the time (all the time?), I feel completely inept as a parent. And yeah, my husband is pretty useless with the support stuff. I know he’s stressed about money and me being the one unemployed, that’s my fault, in part, so sometimes I feel that I can’t blame him. But he has his own spending issues which totally annoy me. But that’s another matter.

      What makes no sense to me is that if I long for the selfish days of no responsibilities, why can’t I just selfishly do something with selling or whatever that might make me feel better? I always say I have no idea how to feel better, but apparently I do have some ideas… I just can’t follow through. I think I don’t believe I deserve it… and like I said, I feel obnoxious trying to sell anyone anything…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d still put your stuff out there. Etsy or here on WP. Try a post or two and see what kinda reception you get. I don’t market myself much either, and nearly none here. But, I got several sales of our bottle cap critters just by using them in pic posts. Try it. Might be surprised. If it bombs, it bombs. You should at least give it a go.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Do you think people will hate me and think I’m obnoxious if I make a post about the stuff I have for sale? Like, a whole post about it? [I started writing one, but you know how I write posts and trash them all the damn time…] I think I’d feel even worse if I started sneaking mentions into other posts… know what I mean? It’s too advertise-y… I don’t know!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Nope, I don’t think they’d mind at all. You’re just putting it out there. If they’re interested, they’ll let you know. If not, no biggie. I think asking someone to follow their blog is more annoying than showing your wares.

            I wish you’d be less concerned with what people may think, though. It’s ok to promote yourself a bit. No need for the used-car-salesperson-hard-sell tactic. But, showing what you’ve created? Not a bad thing at all. 😃


  6. Beach is absolutely right, you could use someone to be there to give you that little push, and support, just as you hesitate. If that person’s not around then it’s you who has to push yourself. Not a big push, just a little one. If the cool things for sale are craft type things, try ETSY. Dead easy, do as much or as little as you like.
    Why nor try volunteering locally for just a couple of hours. That can lead to paid work, and will give you extra contacts. Whatever you do, do it because you want to, and you enjoy it. Do not do anything that you hate doing, just for the money. That is soul destroying.
    I look forward to hearing your success stories soon Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I had support… like, in my daily life here. But my husband is useless with that. As I was saying to Beach, my husband is stressed about money… and that’s on me, at least partly. But he doesn’t take much action to make it better either (saving as much as possible and things like that). If anything, he’ll make a snide comment that makes me feel worse. “I guess I need to get a second job.” That’s not feasible for him anyway… why say it? Just to make me feel bad?

      The stuff I have designed is already available online. Not through Etsy because if I used that, I’d have to produce which is difficult because I can’t really afford the supplies. And every time I try to complete setting up my Etsy shop, I get stuck coming up with a name for it so I never finish. I should still try because everyone knows Etsy. The site I’m using is’t as well-known. I think promoting it on my blog could be a way to get people to see it but is that as obnoxious as I think it is? People don’t come here to shop.

      I think I have too much social anxiety to volunteer. That’s also why I don’t really have any contacts to help me find work. I have a few from my last job, but I don’t really keep in touch. They would vouch for me as needed but that’s really it. I wouldn’t even know where to volunteer or how to start to pursue that.

      I’m not sure I can do something I want rather than something just for the money. We need the money. If I wait until it’s something I want to do, well… I might be living in a cardboard box. My last job was kind of a soul-sucking one… but I stayed anyway (because it was easier than finding something else and I’m an idiot).

      Well… that was a long comment. Sorry. And thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. gigglingfattie says:

    Fear of success is a big thing for me too! It’s a scary thought! Just the unknown in general. I hope that you are able to find a job that will help you meet all those goals for you and for your family.

    On a different note though, I’m very interested in this amazon affiliate thing. How does it work? What do you do? I am both intrigued and confused by it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can google the amazon thing. I might as well pay you since, of course, when you implement it you’ll get the benefit instead of me, so I just gave that away. I’m fucking stupid. No wonder I fail at everything.


      • gigglingfattie says:



        • Hey, I don’t own Amazon… the info is out there for the world to see. I’m just mad at myself because I never follow through on anything. Hell, I’ve tried a lot of those “make money online” things and I’ve never made anything remotely significant… I’m a seriously unlucky person! Oh… and if I remember correctly, if you don’t get enough “sales” within a certain time for the Amazon thing, they cancel you. I think. So who knows if this thing would even be helpful.


          • gigglingfattie says:

            Oh wow! That is a little harsh about Amazon.

            And I’ve never made any money on those online things too. I created a profile on a website to do some online editing and only got one job out of it after 3 months so I just deleted my profile. I do keep up with the online surveys though. I’ve made about $40 so far on that but that’s since November lol

            Liked by 1 person

            • I am almost always told I’m not qualified for surveys. I don’t know why… I guess my opinion doesn’t matter… I’m telling you… I’m cursed! Things that work, even a little, for everyone on earth don’t work for me! Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me to try things… seems pointless!


  8. stephieann8 says:

    Fear of success is a big one for me! It holds me back it surly does.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. erkendrich says:

    Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being good enough, fear of being too good – all these things hold me back too, exacerbated by being a home schooling mum for many years, or maybe being a woman; we give so much to others we forget about ourselves. To some degree, I think it is about our perfectionism, wanting to be the very best we can in everything and that causes complete paralysis. Learning to just do it, to have a go, put yourself out there and see what happens is the only way forward. We need to let go of our fear and see what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree about perfectionism… I have a problem with that. And I have a problem just doing things. Too scary, maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

      • erkendrich says:

        Tim Ferriss says, in his TED talk, “Fear is your friend. Fear is an indicator. Sometimes it shows you what you shouldn’t do. More often than not it shows you exactly what you should do. And the best results that I’ve had in life, the most enjoyable times, have all been from asking a simple question: What’s the worst that can happen?” Good outlook to have if we can get over the initial ‘being scared’ bit! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: fiction friday 73: but it’s non-fiction. | what sandra thinks

  11. Lots of comments here I see. When my kids were younger, I had many of the same thoughts and fears as you. Now, Kids are out of the house. I quit my job as a teacher because I disagreed with the whole system on so many points, plus I had personal things on and I was going crazy. I decided to pursue a second Master’s degree and a new career after a few months completely off. Now, I am half way through a Masters degree in Pharmacy and can’t even find an entry level position in that field. I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten 100 rejection letters, because I have no “experience.” I’m scared to death I’ll have to go back to teaching, mostly because I feel as though I have burned that bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty screwed career-wise. I’ve never known what I wanted to do… so I just landed wherever I landed. I’ve always been excellent at my jobs… but none of them were even a little bit fulfilling. So, being unemployed now, I don’t know what to look for except more of the same unfulfilling work. I can’t afford to go back to school but that doesn’t matter since I don’t know what I’d back for anyway. I’ve never found anything that feels right to me. Of course, even if I did, I imagine I’d be in the same boat you’re in — no experience, no job. And I still have somewhat young kids… I need flexibility. You hear all the time about companies being great with work/life balance but I can’t find any of them. Do they even really exist??

      Best of luck to you!

      Liked by 1 person

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