Dealing with Anxiety in my Creative Life

In the past couple of days, I’ve been particularly focused on overcoming anxiety and fear about my creative life. However, without a solid definition of what fear is, it kind of feels like I’m dealing with a nebulous blob of unpleasantness. What does ‘fear’ actually mean?

noun: Fear
1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Thanks, Google. Now to adapt this general definition to what I’m specifically afraid of.

noun: Lillian’s Fear
1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that allowing myself to express my creativity is likely to cause pain.

Photo credit: Joel Marsh Garland

Okay, now I’m going to break it down even further. Why do I believe that my creativity is likely to cause me pain?

  • I won’t be perfect right away.
  • I might tap into deep emotions that disturb me.
  • I might do something I feel good about and share it and then have to deal with unknown consequences.
  • It’s not safe to take action and change.
  • I might get rejected.
  • If I do express myself creatively in the ways I’ve already thought of, I’ll need to move on to new unknown ways of expressing myself.
  • Other people will know more about my creative capabilities and expect more from me, which will necessitate more growth and change.
  • I’ll be threatened by people who disregard my creativity and value their own more highly.
  • I’ll realize that my idols are people too and lose that safe fantasy of the creative person as other.
  • I’ll be held accountable for my actions as opposed to living in my safe ‘one day I will’ world of ideas.

A lot of what I wrote above has to do with the pain of change and moving into the unknown or losing a sense of safety. Those pain points can’t be avoided if I want to keep living a healthy full life, and I do.

It’s possible that it won’t be as tough to deal with that kind of pain as I strengthen my creative muscle and resilience over time. Maybe that’s how overcoming fear feels. I’ll likely open myself up to new challenges along the way and with my newfound strength overcome bigger obstacles and push through new levels of fear.

The first step is to accept my fears, express myself creatively anyway, and trust that everything will be okay.

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