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10 Things It Might Be That Don’t Mean You’re Afraid

Sometimes I get a bit tired of the social media voices going on about how afraid you are to… dream big, get your stuff out there, go to the next level, live the dream, follow your passion, market effectively, sell without hating it, embrace your inner entrepreneur…

You could probably add more of your own to that list.

Sometimes I get a bit tired of the constant message that it’s fear getting in the way. Maybe, just maybe, there are some other things that might be going on.

Not So Fading Beauty

1. Maybe you’re still getting clear on your message

2. Or teaching philosophy

3. Or medium

4. Maybe you need to shift the way you’re doing things, look at them upside-down or back to front, or with a sort of mental squint*

5. Maybe approaches to marketing and promotion that work for some people will not necessarily work for you

6. Perhaps passing it on is more important to you than selling it. Even if you’d like to find a way to do both

7. Maybe calls to shine and sparkle simply do not resonate. you want to be grounded, earthy, humble, strong.

8. Perhaps your strengths lie in being quiet, and offering space, not adding more noise into the mix

9. Maybe you work better in collaboration with others. And you’re still learning that. And still finding your tribe.

10. Maybe there’s a natural point when your work achieves momentum. And you’re not there yet. And that’s okay.

Maybe there are many things it could be that do not mean you are afraid.


This is a contribution to a week long mini-series on writing and fear.

The image is one of mine: not so fading beauty.

The mental squint reference is to Alice:

“When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.”

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  1. Paula Swenson
    Twitter: zografispaula

    Yes, YES, a thousand times yes… I am so glad to hear your voice today, Joanna . . . we’re catching the culture of fear being fed to us by politics and draggin it all over the universe!! yes. thank you.

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  3. Norm
    Twitter: npypScotland

    Spot on. I relate to about 9 out of 10 of these.

    The psyche in the UK is very different from other countries so what applies elsewhere may not here.

    Provided these don’t become long term excuses nor indeed develop into barriers or the alleged “fears”, albeit unconsciously, it is good to work things out in our own way and time.

    Another side to this is perhaps that the social media “gurus” with massive followings have got it all worked out and to be successful we need to duplicate what they do to achieve similar success. Perhaps we know it too. Are we willing to be like them/that to achieve their perceived success?

    Could that be too much to pay? What price is your dignity and integrity?

  4. Jackie Walker
    Twitter: jackiewalker

    Spot on Joanna. I guess that those who have allegedly achieved success want to share it - it’s up to those who want to be the same to duplicate it. Modelling is a fine form of achieving similar.

    I like Norm’s observation that as long as we avoid using any of the points as excuses for not being where we want to go then we have a choice to be ourselves and find our way.

  5. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach says:

    You should always be true to yourself, first and foremost. If your personality is NOT that of promotion, and you’re comfortable with that, more power to you!

    If you DO need to sell but hate selling and do not want to embrace selling, parter with something who love the concept. I did that with my RISE Internet recruiting seminars - worked out great!

    The main point, however, is unless YOU yourself see a need to ‘change fear’…. don’t. Be true to what matters to YOU.

  6. Conor
    Twitter: ebbstachio

    Hey Joanna,

    I think this is spot on. I often tire of these calls to “get out there, gain confidence, and shine brightly”. None of this addresses your purpose, your message (as you said). They only address a present unwillingness to self-promote.

    For me, completion breeds confidence. Every poem or song finished breeds more. When I put them out, in my own time, I am fully invested in them. It’s not all about fear. Sometimes, it’s simply about finding your expression, growing into it, and unleashing it in streams rather than torrents.

    I talk a lot, but I listen more, to people, to nature and to the silence. There are enough people pushing their words upon us. I prefer for mine to drift in, like the waft of a home cooked meal, filling each room.


  7. Suzanne says:

    Thank You, now that makes sense, It really does, I feel more productive and energetic I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, and improve with the pace that works for me, maybe I’m not afraid, maybe I’m just really not ready, maybe I’m on the right track.
    your post really got me thinking, and gave me confident, away form fear of being in fear to make the next move.
    Thank you again. :)
    Sorry for my English, it’s not my first language, but I’ve been a reader of your blog for may month.

  8. Susan Mulder says:

    This was so refreshing to read! While I appreciate that many are inhibited by fear I never quite recognized myself in that message. Attempting to apply techniques and ‘tricks’ to overcome fear felt disingenuous and never worked for me.
    Learning and accepting my process is what helps to move me forward. Thank you for articulating the multifaceted nature of the creative process!

  9. Indigo
    Twitter: sageraven

    Wonderful post! I think so many people pick fear as any easy escape, other than exploring what might actually be going on. Lack of confidence isn’t fear, it’s an echo of self-esteem and I guarantee it envelopes more than a writer’s words. There are so many examples of this.

    As you said, there is also the quiet contemplation, the simple enjoyment not to shout loud, but explore. (Hugs)Indigo

  10. Davina Haisell says:

    Loved this, Joanna.
    “Perhaps your strengths lie in being quiet, and offering space, not adding more noise into the mix” Yes! Sometimes we push ourselves too hard… too hard to ‘pretend’ we *aren’t* afraid.

  11. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Paula Swenson: I am glad this resonated… it was kind of written for me, but I figured it might just have wider application!

    @Norm: you’re right about not allowing these things to become barriers - for me it’s really about being aware of different internal states. There is bound to be fear in the mix of the creative process, and that will generate delays and procrastination, but there are lots of other things going on which are simply about taking your time to develop your material the way you want to. And to sell it the way you want to! Good point too though about different cultural approaches in different countries. Another thing to be aware of.

  12. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Jackie Walker: yes, I think in essence it’s about being at a point of choice, or getting to that point. It’s much easier to read other people’s words of wisdom (including my own!) when you’re at that place. [PS as I write this I realise this is what you're so very good at, getting people to the point of choice... to be themselves]

    @Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach: great point about partnering up with others Barbara. I’ve several times thought about partnering up with others whose work I’d love to help sell and promote… so much easier to promote others than your self!… maybe I should actually do more to put that idea into practice.

  13. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Conor: That’s it in a nutshell Conor. Completion breeds confidence. It’s the work - the writing, the stories, the poems, the songs - that matter, not us. When they’re ready, when the muse or the inner editor or whatever that inner voice is for us says, yes, that’s okay, it’s good, it should go out now, then there is no fear. (Of course, it has taken me a very long time to realise this)

    I like that you are listening to nature and quiet spaces. I have had the privilege to see some of the work that emerges from that listening. And I like it, a lot.

  14. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Suzanne: thank you so much for your comment Suzanne, and letting me know you’ve been reading for a while :-) I think that is the key, definitely, find your own pace, and go at your own pace, and then enjoy the delicious feeling of being in flow.

    @Susan Mulder: I’m glad the post resonated Susan. Your words connected with me too: “Learning and accepting my process is what helps to move me forward. ” Yes, yes, yes.

  15. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Indigo: that’s an interesting point, that fear is actually an easy option, an escape route, to avoid looking at what else is going on. So much of the creative process is really about tuning in to ourselves, learning and listening, being kind to ourselves, and yes, as you say, getting smarter at working out what’s what. (All of which can only be good for self-esteem in the long run.)

    @Davina Haisell: I think really it’s about growing into the confidence of knowing who we are, and where our strengths lie. When you get to that point, a lot of the old apparent fears simply drop away.

  16. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Oh my Joanna, it is as if you reached into my soul and saw exactly what I have been feeling for the past several weeks. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and yet wanting to laugh with relief because finally my condition has a name. I have known for about a month that I was burnt out on “go big, live your dream, monetize, productize, magnetize” messages. I shut down and tuned out to try and find my own voice and motivation. I got depressed and felt that perhaps I was a non-ambitious loser who just had nothing to offer. Slowly, I have been working my way through to find the answers and now you have neatly laid them out in a nice numbered post. :-) I cannot even begin to express how much I want to hug you for lighting the way out of this dark tunnel. Thank you Joanna, thank you! xo

  17. Bo Mackison says:

    Oh, Joanna….I haven’t any words left.

  18. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Karen Swim: oh Karen… I’m so glad this touched you. I only wish I could show you just how much of a difference you make, how many people you touch and move through your words, your generosity and your heart. One day you’ll get it ;-) PS glad you liked the numbered list!

    @Bo Mackison: thanks x

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