When we were kids, most of us spent at least some amount of time being scared of things that didn’t actually exist – monsters under the bed, ghosts in the closet, witches in the abandoned house around the corner.
As adults, we still do the same thing.
It just manifests itself a little bit differently.
We tend to let our imaginations run away with themselves when we think about what the potential negative outcomes of a situation are. We experience the emotional reaction of failure without even being able fully articulate what the failure we are afraid of looks like.
I was thinking about Julia Child this morning (inspired by a friend doing a fabulous job cooking Julia’s famous boeuf bourguignon for the first time at a dinner party last night) and I came across this quote of hers that I love:
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” – Julia Child
Having a what-the-hell attitude isn’t always easy because we imagine the impact of failure to be monumentally bad.
In deciding to leave Girl Scouts and move to New York, it didn’t really feel like I could have a flippant attitude about it. The consequences of failure felt huge. But that’s the issue – they simply felt huge.
I finally made myself actually write down the worst thing that could happen and here’s what it was:
The worst thing that could happen is that I would move to New York, make no money, go bankrupt, and have to move in with my parents for a while until I got back on my feet.
Hmmmmmm. We actually, that’s not that bad. My parents are great cooks, are fun to be around, and have a wonderful house (and mom and dad, if you’re reading this, I get the sense that you wouldn’t mind that set up either, at least for a little while anyway).
As “worst things” go, that barely makes it on the scale of bad. Even if the worst-case scenario had been a lot heavier and more negative then that, at least writing it down would have given me something concrete to deal with.
It is much easier to fight the ghosts and goblins that are scaring you if you’re honest about what they actually are.