Fear of success - woman at a window
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How do we get where we want to be?

by Jessica Cabot

Fear of success sounds pretty ridiculous, and yet I assume it’s what holds most of us back. Is it because it is really a fear of failure? You’re probably smart enough, good enough, talented enough, and know some of the right people. And you don’t mean to be arrogant, but it’s almost like failure just isn’t something you’re capable of. 

And yet you fail a lot. You see other people getting the things you know you deserve.

You aren’t quite ready anyway, because the thing you’re working on isn’t perfect yet. And never mind that you cannot bring yourself to actually work on said “masterpiece.” You just … have been busy. It’s hard to remember with what, but you’ll get to your real work eventually, when the moment is right. Still, a part of you feels like you aren’t doing enough. You should be better, try harder.

When we are held back in our lives, it is most often ourselves who are secretly holding us back. We’re afraid. Failing is comfortable. It’s what we know. Perfectionism is a dangerous culprit of this fear of success and it’s the ego’s prize possession. It simultaneously allows for ourselves to never be good enough and for us to have something to use as a source for pride.

I am all for hard work, but as I find myself more deeply entrenched in the entertainment industry that I have worked so hard to infiltrate, I find myself at an interesting crossroads. I have been blessed with several very large irons, which I have immersed in some sort of … fire. These irons are hot. But in the past few weeks I’ve managed to spend a lot of time staring at the open windows before me, paralyzed, and wondering how long they’ll stay open. Am I going to be able to do it? What happens if my best wasn’t good enough after all? This whole time I’ve been waiting to be perfect, but I still don’t think I am.

In a town that is supposedly founded on creativity, and in a world that is rapidly changing, I personally believe that we no longer have anyone to blame for our lack of being where we want to be than our own fear of success.

I suspect that the old foundations of Hollywood may be crumbling. As it is, people are venturing out in this unexplored frontier and then being “discovered” by TV networks. It’s already happening, just look at Orange is the new Black, a show that is uninhibited, honest and is allowed to shine, thus creating new demands and standards for entertainment.

We need to put ourselves out there and take some risks – creatively and in our lives. Maybe now is not the time to play the game and do the right thing, paying your dues by sacrificing your ability to live your own dreams, working your way up the ladder, and waiting until you’re ready and perfect so that someone will give his or her permission for you to be a success. Perhaps we need to let go of our old confining definitions of success and recognize that all along we’ve been equating “success” with being “good enough” or “perfect” or “deserving and worthy of love” when we’ve always been those things all along.

Our success has always been within ourselves, and our success can be now. We don’t need to wait until we are famous actresses and writers to feel good about our lives, because this is the best moment. The one in which anything is possible, and the one where we can take a leap of faith and see where we land.

Whatever we come up with first may not be perfect, and it might not even be the ticket, but it is in feeling the fear and moving forward anyway that our goals and dreams can be realized. Plus, goals and dreams change, and we learn as we go. The real success has always been in trying, not in accomplishing a certain outcome. Stop waiting for that perfect moment that might never come, because it’s only our fear that is asking us to do that anyway.

Jessica Cabot

About Jessica Cabot

Jessica Cabot is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles who has worked for such notable TV programs as Web Therapy, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Weeds, and Wilfred. She hopes to one day change and inspire the world with her comedy, or at least be roasted on Comedy Central. Jessica even co-hosts a monthly comedy show at Bar Lubitsch as an intergalactic super model, Lady Sodium. Other than that she shares a birthday with Gary Busey. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacabot

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