It’s okay to be afraid

As I write this, my tummy all the way to my chest is a knot of emotions. You know when it feels like your guts have been thrown into the washing machine and everything’s getting all soapy and mixed up? That’s where I am right now.

You see, I’m attending my first-ever publishing convention in a few days—the Asian Publishing Convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia—and it’s a dream come true for me. I’d been wondering for years now about what goes on in publishing conventions, and just a few weeks ago I told myself that I’d make it a goal to attend a publishing conference “one of these days.”

Two weeks later, Writer’s Block Philippines was sent an invitation to attend the APC—and we were given two FREE slots. True to form, the Universe pushed the fulfillment of my dream up several months, forcing me to get ready for it now.

And, yes, I’m elated to be going, and I’m excited to be meeting publishers and getting an up-close-and-personal look at the Asian publishing scene, but, frankly, I am downright scared. No—let me correct myself—I am petrified. You see, I’m coming face-to-face with a life-long dream, and… what if I fail? What if my book proposal is not good enough? What if I don’t exactly meet a publisher who matches my goals? What if it turns out to be a big waste of time (and money)? What if I take the leap and then come crashing hard on the ground?

Just the thought—and the acknowledgement of that thought—is enough to bring tears to my eyes right now. I’m like a seven-year-old kid who’s being pushed to the stage and is being paralyzed by stage fright. I want to do this right, but I’m not sure if what I know and have is enough to make it. Like the seven-year-old in my example, I’d been doing my drills and attending rehearsals diligently for years now, but no one can really say for sure how the performance will turn out. Plus, unlike the seven-year-old in my example, I don’t exactly have a coach. I don’t have an expert holding my hand every step of the way and teaching me the ropes of this business. (I am truly and eternally grateful, though, to my friend Ana who’s been an “unofficial coach” through this process.) I have the will, I have the passion, I have the desire to make this happen—but, I have to wonder, is that enough?

And here’s the strange part. I’ve been published enough times to not be nervous. I’ve been regularly published in magazines for five years now, and I’ve been writing and packaging custom publications for around 10 years. I’ve co-written two books, published another one with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, so I’m not exactly an amateur. But: this is my first time to pitch a project very personal and dear to me that I would be devastated if I were to get rejected.

I feel like I’m being set up with the man of my dreams and am absolutely terrified that it won’t work out between us. I’m sure some of you know how that feels like.

So I’m going to beg your indulgence as I show just bit of insecurity and self-doubt on this blog. I am human, after all. I am coming face-to-face with a dream—and maybe that’s why the fear is so intense that it’s really paralyzing me. (Hence, procrastinating on whipping up my book proposal and writing here instead.)

Then again, I’m thinking now, maybe it would be weird if I weren’t afraid at all. After all, if this means so much to me, then it’s just perfectly normal to be this anxious and emotional about it—right? That’s why even couples who are perfectly happy and in love get wedding jitters… right?

At this point, I just have to reassure myself that it’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to feel doubt and insecurity and fear—and it’s okay to think even just for a few minutes that I don’t have what it takes. I’m just being true to what I really feel right now. BUT I WON’T LET THAT STOP ME. Like that seven-year-old kid in my example, I’m going to march up the stage—tummy in knots and all—and I’m going to sing my heart out. The audience may or may not applaud, I may or may not get the affirmation I need, but I’m going to give it my all.

Maybe that is the lesson the Universe is teaching me right now.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. mohamed saed says:

    Dreams are always sweeter than realities. It is quite natural to be a little bit nervous while facing the moment of one’s dream coming true. It is both human and humane. I am sure that you will cope with the situation fortified by you experience and interaction with your readers. When you face your audience, you will realize that your fears were in fact baseless and some what irrelevant.

    Best regards

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