a open letter from the girl who just might make it

Last night, I had a very special guest over for dinner. My older cousin, who is more like an older brother, and I prepared dinner as we discussed the basics of life. He’s off to Harvard Business School (insert cheer) this week and we got together last night to send him off. I remember having these same dinners 6 years ago, but our conversations were very different then. He was in New York for investment banking. I was just frustrated then, much like a bull in a pen that has no direction. I also didn’t have as much of an opinion and to me, my cousin was more of a teacher rather than a peer. To my surprise, he expressed a great deal of admiration for me. Its not like I was a complete moron back then, but I was easily frightened. He seemed to remember better than I how that girl used to scare.

My cousin has a brillant way of helping you position your goals. And though I don’t even know if he knows what SMART goals are, he always reminds me of them. I secretly wonder if he wrote them. He walked me through the next two years, the options that I had, the talent he has seen. He asked some good questions. I know they were good because they made me uneasy. I felt uncomfortable, but not with him. I began to feel uncomfortable with myself. Why hadn’t I been thinking of this? I hadn’t immediately pin pointed someone’s approach as right or wrong. I was more concerned about me feeling so blank about it all.

I was up most of the night. I was stalling. I knew it in my gut. I have been stalling with the writing, with the novel, with the blog… but why? Why wasn’t I ready to move forward? Was I afraid of failing?

No. It was worse. I felt my legs stiffen and my heart freeze. I was afraid of making it. I could honestly say at that moment I felt a very cold and raw “It’s true. I don’t want to make it.” came out with my breath.

Photograph by A. Saravia

Now I’ve really done it. How the hell am I going to fix this? How did this happen? Was this a by product of some heartbreak? How can I be scared of success?

I spent the night trying to figure out what it was that was holding on to me so tightly. Did I feel undeserving of whatever could come my way? Was I a good enough photography or writer to actually be recognized? And then it flicked me in the face. I was scared of not being able to sustain my success. Of things fading. Of being at the top, all by myself and someone finding out that I may not have been as great as they thought.

I woke up today and I understood my fears a little better. I saw the traces of self sabotage that I had been placing here and there. I noticed the exhaustion that I was putting myself through. I noticed the sluggish attitude that had been bringing me down. I got on my knees this morning and in an Eckhart Tolle moment, I separated the I from myself. I removed “I” from the sentence. I removed the ego and sat in front of it. In my pjs, I kneeled down all warrior-like and I let myself have it:

I don’t care what you do. I don’t care how scared you are and the little attempts that you’ll put in my road to stop it. I will figure this out. It’s true, I’m scared. This is mine and though I appreciate the lessons and entertainment, this is going to happen. You’re just going to have to grow a pair, because we’re doing this.

Some of us are afraid of failing. I remember because this is what happened first. This fear usually shows up before one gets started. When it’s just a dream and we haven’t allowed ourselves to try it. I crushed this fear as I broke out of my shell, so it seems only natural that I should develop a new one, doesn’t it? (Enter new monster) While some are focused on failure, some of us are afraid of actually getting everything that we want. It’s scary when we get close to it. It’s scary when you’re falling in love with what’s coming. As I was catching the subway this morning, I remembered one of my favorites quotes:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

So there you have it. I’m not crazy for fearing success, but it was unsettling to me that something good would scare me. That the idea of something good could stop me dead in my tracks from making progress. I don’t know how long the little speech I gave myself this morning is going to last, but it’s a start. As I write it out in this post, it all seems so foolish. I can’t believe I stayed up late because I’m scared of getting what I want. It seems a little ridiculous today, but then again, it always does once you muster up the courage to face it, doesn’t it?

Success is not how we imagine it. It’s not about podiums or high profile moments. There might not be a lot of money or fame. That’s not why we set out to get what we want. It’s about something bigger. When you make it, you get to see a different side of the world. You get to see a different side of yourself. You get it. Things can be done. By you. So, make sure to cross over because it does look different from up here.

Photograph by A. Saravia

See you on the other side,

Tone

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About Antonella Saravia

Antonella is a freelance writer. Graduated from Purdue University, Antonella is based out of New York City and Nicaragua, where she was raised. Follow her via Twitter @tonesaravia & Instagram via @tsaravia.

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