What Are You Afraid Of? | Thoughts On Fear As An Artist
“I’m afraid of using strobes.” “I’m afraid of marketing.” I’m afraid of… stop! Observing photographers of all experience levels, I’ve realized that fear is an excuse many of us make (myself included), whether we realize it or not, for not doing one thing or another. But that’s all it is, an excuse. A lot of things are scary until you do them. Then, after doing whatever the intimidating thing was, you look back on the time you spent fretting instead of acting and finally see how incredibly silly you were being. You see others expressing their fears and postponing their goals because of them and you want to shake them and say, “Just do it! Stop overthinking and psyching yourself out, get in there and do the thing!”
Of course, overcoming your fears is easier said than done, but I’m here to remind you that sometimes it’s best to jump in head first and learn to swim on the way. In every photography job I’ve had as an employee, I’ve been dropped into tasks greater than I felt ready for but somehow managed to figure it out under pressure.
When we are forced to do something, when our failure would not be private, but observed and judged, we find ways to accomplish what is asked of us, but when we are the only ones holding ourselves accountable, as is the case as a freelancing entrepreneur or simply as a hobbyist learning the craft, it’s harder to take that step into the unknown and easier to let the mental barriers you’ve created hold you back. The advice I was once given when listing excuses for why I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do, despite having the skill for it: “Don’t sh*t on your own parade.”
[REWIND: The Best Business Advice I Can Offer You]
The scariest things are the things that offer the most opportunity for growth – if you can just do them. It’s normal and perfectly ok to feel afraid, but don’t let fear paralyze you. Power through; take action in spite of the fear, and give yourself permission to fail. You will find that it gets easier with practice. So start now! Stop sh*tting on your own parade.
And don’t be afraid to share your vulnerabilities with other artists. You may discover that they will mirror you in ways no parties involved had expected. It’s amazing how true the cliche “you are not alone” really is. Maybe you’ll be in the same predicament, but seeing it in someone other than yourself will give you a new perspective, or maybe one of you will have already overcome the obstacle and can help the other to do the same.
What fears are holding you down? What action will you take – now that you’re going to stop letting fear stand in your way?