I’m probably not the first person to argue the fact that fear of success can easily generate the same crippling level of anxiety, in the mind of any given individual, that fear of failure can.
The trappings of success stand to ensnare us, just as equally as they have the potential to liberate us from our mundane ordinariness.
Which makes me think, as artists, we writer-types are oftentimes supreme masters of self-sabotage. I suppose, what I’m really trying to say is that we set ourselves up to fail. Almost as a method of self-preservation, I’d put it to you.
Because how else is it that what we create doesn’t succeed? Once the basics of grammar and structure are grasped, what makes the work of one writer outshine that of another? I mean, there are only 12 or so different storylines in the history of written language. In fact, Shakespeare himself, for instance, failed to come up with a single original plot throughout the duration of his much celebrated career.
So, therefore, I suspect, success actually equates with unshakeable self-belief. And this is what is meant by the idea that somebody is not yet ready to step up to the plate, as a writer or artist, to claim their rightful place amongst other successful luminaries in his or her field. It means they don’t believe themselves to be worthy yet.
But just how is this feeling of unworthiness expressed in unconscious acts of self-sabotage, exactly? Well, the simple act of repeatedly not meeting a daily word-count goal is a simple example of this.
As is my wont, I have found a counterexample to this kind of self-defeating thinking, from within the world of music and musicians. And I often reflect on the message that this counterexample contains, when contemplating my own lack of success in my creative life. It’s basically a quote from legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, in which he says that one day he simply realized he was too good to be washing dishes for a living.
I think he’s long since proved his point, wouldn’t you say? And I’m hoping I’ve also succeeded in making mine somewhere along the way within all this. “Oye Como Va!”