Why Is Success So Scary?
Let’s get one thing straight: most people are afraid of success.
Whether it’s asking for a promotion or going after a lifelong dream, we’re trying to climb the next rung on the ladder with trembling hands. We coax ourselves to keep going, but our minds fight to keep us in place and safe within the status quo.
We want more, but we hold ourselves back.
We aim for the sky, but deep inside we are scared of getting there.
The Introduction Fiasco
About a month ago, I took part in a conference in Managua. When I arrived, I spotted a friend of mine sitting with a group of people I’d never met. When I walked up to them, my friend introduced me to the small group.
He said wonderful things about me — and I absolutely hated it.
He used the word “expert”, “leader” and maybe even “awesome” to describe me. With every glowing word that came out of his mouth, I cringed and swatted his compliments away with a vengeance.
“Don’t listen to a word he says!” I interjected, laughing nervously. “I wish I was that cool!”
My friend turned to me dead serious: “You don’t like compliments. Why is that? You should think about that, Marcella.”
And think about it I have.
None of that exchange was my friend’s fault. He values me, just as I dearly value him. I’m grateful for his kind words.
The fault lies within me, wedged deep within an ardent fear of succeeding.
The Dirty Culprits
Ever since that brush up with my very obvious fear, I’ve been upset with the human mind. Upset because the fear of success runs counter to our yearnings and aspirations. It stomps on our adventures and quests. It’s left me feeling blue — but also very hopeful because there is a way out.
Success is not meant to be scary — but it’s terrifying. Why?
We’re afraid of so many things (like a rejected promotion or a glowing introduction), but there are two main things that we’re frightened of:
- Not deserving our success
- The changes our success may bring
While a great friend was saying nice things about me to a new group of people, all I could think about was just how little I deserved the compliments he was giving me. I doubted myself. Negative 100 points for the Marcinator.
But my friend helped me realize it. Instead of giving in to that doubt in the future, I’m now aware of my tendency to fear success. (And awareness truly is the building block to everything awesome.)
On the other hand, fear of success also has much to do with changes — especially the changes we can’t foresee. I dream of publishing a best-selling book, but I fear what that will mean for my family and lifestyle — a book tour for moths on end, sudden fame and moving out of Nicaragua?
Who knows what would happen if I did make it big, but the fear of the unknown holds us back — nonsensically, if you ask me. We are all in control of the choices we make. Our lives change, but our choices shape those changes. The unknown can attempt to move me out of Nicaragua, but there’s no way in Hell I’m leaving my little piece of country, homeslice.
The next time my fear of success shows its ugly face (and I’m sure it’ll happen soon), here are some things to keep in mind:
- I will remind myself of how far I have come on my quest.
- I will shut out the little ugly voice in my head saying mean things about me. (It talks very loud.)
- I will focus on the positive choices I can make to control the changes in my life.
- I will think back on how I started as a little girl and remember just how much that little girl on the right deserves everything she strives for.
If you’re thinking this is too much self-love, think again. This is not the same thing as being conceited. It’s about believing I’m worthy. Boom!
Have you ever felt afraid of a successful step in your life? Have you ever doubted the fact that you deserve something awesome? I’m with you — but I’m working on it.
Share your stories and thoughts in the comments. At least I’ll know I’m not alone!