There’s this question that keeps coming up in therapy. It’s part of my therapist’s school of thought (which, if you’re interested in the minutia, is Individual Psychology). She asks me it every week.
What is your greatest fear?
I’ve never actually answered it. I’ve had different reasons, like “I’ve never really thought about it.” and “I have a lot of fears, not just one big one.” (the I Don’t Have A Favorite Movie defense) and “Can we talk David Lynch movies? Those scare me.” And so on. Today she asked me again. For the first time an answer came to mind. I didn’t say it out loud, obviously, because why would I talk about it in therapy when I blog it instead?
(Ok, in seriousness, I just didn’t know how to say it, and figured I’d have an easier time doing it where I had a shot at a second draft. I’ll talk about it in my next session.)
Underneath the self-deprecation and seeming lack of esteem in myself and my abilities, I’m a bit of an arrogant SOB. I have high expectations of myself, a sense of higher purpose driven by the belief that great things are possible. It’s not something I like to show publicly (which is part of the reason I like to take myself down a peg in front of others), but I swear to you it’s there, and it’s got strength. I’m capable of success, damn it, and no one can stand in my way!
What if I’m not?
What if all the work, all the effort, all the days spent typing words on this keyboard and taking feedback and finding readers and outlets for publication is for naught? What if, when all is said and done, I wasn’t half of what I thought?
What if I’m
What if I never will be, no matter how hard I try?
That’s the other edge of the sword. That’s the bleeding cut that can come from believing in something you haven’t proven yourself capable of. The fear that you’ve been deluding yourself. The fear of being wrong. Of being less than you told yourself you were and led others to believe.
Maybe that’s it. My big fear. The horrible possibility I let rejections, setbacks, real and perceived negative reactions, and my own dissatisfaction prove. That, in the final summation, I might be so, so wrong about my abilities.
I promise I didn’t post this as a beg for sympathy or affirmation. I’m not even saying I actually believe I’m less than I hope. Remember: I think pretty highly of myself when no one is looking. I’m trying to answer a question I’ve been avoiding for months. As long as a fear goes unspoken and unnamed I have no power over it. No way of keeping that edge of the sword from cutting and cutting and cutting.
I don’t know if that’s my greatest fear or not. It’s a pretty damn great one. If I’m being honest (and if I can’t be honest with the Internet, who can I be honest with?), I don’t really know how to fight it. At least next week I’ll have an answer when my therapist asks. Baby steps still keep you moving forward.
Until then it’s back to arrogance masked by self-deprecating humor. A man’s got to have a shtick.