confessions of a fearful blogger: how battling fear is an ongoing battle

A guest post by Kathy Jeffords.

anyone can be a superhere print by thedreamygiraffe - click image for more info

Confession: I’m scared of blogging.

I know: It’s totally silly and irrational and kind of like being afraid of peaches. (No offense to anyone who actually is afraid of peaches.)

Maybe scared isn’t the right word.

I’m intimidated by blogging.

Though I’ve been a self-employed artist for five years now, painting big-eyed girls and loving it, when I was growing up that was not my #1 dream. What I wanted more than anything was to be a writer.

In junior high, I organized a writer’s group amongst my friends at lunchtime. In high school, I wrote young adult novels in homeroom and was the co-editor of my high school newspaper. In college, I wrote several plays that I got to see performed and worked on the university literary magazine. I won awards. For a while, I had an agent. I was going to be a writer. That was my talent. That was who I was, what I did.

Then I fell in love with art and that became who I was, what I did.

But you’d think, with the love of writing deeply rooted in my soul for so long…blogging would come naturally to me, right?

But: No.

Oh, no.

In 2005, when I started doing my art full-time, I heard over and over how very important having a blog was to this kind of business. Vital, even. And I believe that whole-heartedly.

When we love someone’s work, we want to know more about them. We want to get a peek behind the scenes. We want to be kept up-to-date. We want more than just that purchased print on our wall.

Blogging is a way of not only connecting yourself to your potential buyers and fans…but of creating a community of like-minded individuals…who are there with you to commiserate with and support you, to “get it”, to trade help and advice.

So I started a blog. And I really tried. But it was such a struggle. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, but rather, that fear that it wasn’t good enough simply paralyzed me. My writing became more and more sporadic until I stopped updating the blog all together.

Towards the end of last year, I decided that 2011 was going to be the Year of Transformation for me. First and foremost I wanted to transform my business which seemed to be permanently stuck in the fledgling stage, but I also wanted to transform my life as a whole…and myself. I had had an extremely tough couple of years personally and if you’d had asked me, I would’ve told you my circumstances were holding me back in a major way.

But I didn’t need a change of circumstance. My circumstances did kind of suck.

But it wasn’t my circumstances holding me back. It was me. It was my utter lack of courage. What I needed was a change of attitude.

I needed to make a decision to be brave, to stop letting my “what-if-I-can’ts?” control me. To firmly resolve to take risks, to dump the excuses and make a habit of saying “you’re not invited, get out” to fear when he shows up, whispering seductively in my ear.

I needed to dive in instead of hesitating. I needed to stop letting what I couldn’t control control me. I needed to stop waiting ‘til I felt ready to do things, because…what happens if I never feel ready? Does that day really ever come? Not, in my experience, if you wait around for it.

You just have to decide that TODAY is the day and NOW is the time.

For 33 years, I had lived a live I’d sort of stumbled into…half-heartedly reaching for my dreams…staying well within my comfort zone…sticking my neck out only so far…so terrified of not being good enough…of failing…that though I may have been in the game…I was definitely playing safe. But thankfully I realized: if I want to live a life I WANT, the time had come. I had to either stop being afraid or do it afraid until I got to that point.

I want to do whatever it takes to thrive. I’m tired of settling and shrinking and holding myself back.

Sometimes it’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to mean pushing myself, even when my insides were screaming “YIKES!!!”. It’s going to mean trying new things, even when I don’t really know what I’m doing, which isn’t easy for me. It’s going to mean listening to ideas other than my own, ideas that I might have previously ignored because my internal, dismissive no-can-do! alarm was blaring in my ears.

So, at the beginning of the year, I decided I was going to give two gifts of courage to myself.

First, I decided that, no matter what, I was going to start another blog. It wouldn’t just be about my big-eyed art like my old blog, The Adventures Of KJ & The Dreamy Giraffe, was but about all the artsy craftsy things I like to do and all the obstacles and yay! I-did-its of running your own creative business. I decided that the most important thing was being real. It wasn’t about being good enough but rather painting an accurate picture of what my life is like right now, so a year from now, I can look back and see precisely where I was, and how far I’ve come.

Secondly, I decided every month I’d do some sort of online course or work-through book to help me learn about myself and my goals, to grow both myself and my business.

In January, I started with Tara’s (wonderful) Creating Action mini-course.

One day of the course, Tara encouraged us to e-mail her and tell her what our action was. My action had been writing my very first post in my new blog, 5 or 6 Kathys.

I took a deep breath, wrote a quick e-mail telling her about it, and hit send, expecting that to be the end of that. But it wasn’t.

Within a few hours, Tara wrote back. Her e-mail ended with, “If you’d ever like to do a guest post for Scoutie Girl, let me know!”

My eyes got big. My mouth dropped open.

ARE YOU KIDDING? To me, that was like having a bit part in a high school play and having Will Smith or Johnny Depp or some other Major Actor come up to the stage afterward and say nonchalantly to you: “Hey, you can be in my next film if you want to.”

Editor’s note: LOL.

I think I fell to the floor and rolled around, delightedly. Then I got up, dusted myself off, and sat back on my stool, suddenly cold with fear, thinking, “I…um…I still haven’t figured out my own blog yet…I mean…I just wrote one post…and um…everything posted on Scoutie Girl is brilliant…what would I write that would be good enough?!”

So I wrote Tara back and thanked her and without much thought put that on my “maybe, someday” list. Also known as the “wait ‘til I’m ready” list.

And it hit me, hard. I AM being courageous in so many ways. I’m doing things that sat on my “maybe, someday” list for so very, very long. But even though I’ve stopped inviting fear over to have tea for two…I was still leaving the back door open so he could come in and chill out on the couch when he wanted to. YIPES. That wasn’t a part of the plan! I thought I had broken free of his evil clutches, but apparently it’s an ongoing process.

But it’s an ongoing process I’m dedicated to.

So, here I am, writing a guest post for Scoutie Girl, even though I’m a bit worried that it won’t be good enough, even though I’m still kind of scared of blogging.

Kathy R. Jeffords is a full-time artist and writer whose motto, at 17, was “anything is possible”. Now, at 34, her motto is “anything is possible…if you’re passionate, persistent, and willing to work for it.

60 thoughts on “confessions of a fearful blogger: how battling fear is an ongoing battle

  1. Kathy, I love this post so much, thanks for putting on your brave pants and sharing 😉 I think your feeling will really resonate with a lot of people.

    I’ve been known to let fear get the best of me in the past, but my darling husband taught me the best trick a few years ago. Just ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” Then, really think it out and absorb what that worst thing is, what the thing is the really terrifies you and then just banish it from your thoughts and move on! It’s something so small, but it’s really helped me get out of the habit of having my own worst enemy 😀

  2. Congrats Kathy. Doing something new or going after what we want is scary.

    I tell people that fear never really goes away, so make it your bitch.

    Fear is normal and natural. Fear has a place. We just need to put fear in its place and get moving.

    Keep moving!

  3. Wow. I wrote a post [coincidentally] very similar to this today…about how I just never feel that what I do is enough…never good enough. And a good blog friend directed me over here after she read what I wrote. I feel like someone is trying to tell me to STOP being afraid of what’s right and wrong and JUST DO IT. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this with such honesty and transparency. :)

  4. What a blog and inspiration ! – it is so good to read about your successful struggles, gives me strength and hope, Thank You !
    It is also heartening that the fear and reluctance is not only in me…. I will put away my fear and actually work on my next blog, not anxiously THINK about it. x

  5. thank you!
    defining that thing inside us that is telling us to be scared, shy away, put it off, run away…whatever “it” is…it is hard to define or name even. I’m not a “scared” kind of girl yet when I get some kudos or press why do I want to run? So strange and really refreshing to hear someone else feels it too. someone who had a little success and others want to be like…when I have people approach me and want to intern with me or jump on my bandwagon I hear that little voice again…run away.
    But I don’ t run…I want to …but I stay and work another day.

    {I wrote one post on my blog and quit…but I quit cuz I’m no writer…I’m an artist…I never claimed to be a writer…if my blog could be my art and nothing else I could and would do it.}
    again…thank you Kathy!

    1. Blake, if you want to do it, do it! I see no reason why your blog can’t be just your art. Maybe write a bit about each piece? It doesn’t have to be fancy. There are lots of fabulous blogs that are more about the pictures than the words. There is no written-in-stone set of rules. Do it your way!

  6. Kathy, I relate completely, both to the blogging fears and to the disparity between my vision of myself as a young girl versus my more fearful approach to life now. This post is inspiring me to reconsider, to put aside the “terror of the invisible reader” as I call it, and to reclaim boldness. Thank you.

  7. Kathy, I’m so glad you wrote this guest post for today, because it was exactly what I needed to hear. I think so many of us can relate to what you are saying and here you are. Tara had faith in you for a reason. You are a brilliant writer and you’ve inspired me today. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much, Kim! It’s so encouraging and amazing to find that we can inspire others just by being true to ourselves. Believe me when I say, all of your comments have inspired me just as much if not more than I could’ve possibly inspired you!

  8. Thank you for sharing this. Boy, do I relate… Up until now I considered being a writer with blogophopia to be utterly weird and unheard of.
    Now, maybe I’ll be able to give up my ‘not-good’enough’ fear and … heck, scratch that – I’m just going to start blogging.

    Thanks so much, Kathy and Tara

    1. Go for it! I’ve found 100% to be true that when we face it, fear shrinks and backs down. It’s when we let it be in control that it just grows and grows.

  9. This is awesome and SO what I needed to hear today. This line especially: “I had to either stop being afraid or do it afraid until I got to that point.” I’m doing something today that scares me so much but I’m doing it anyway and reading this really helped to keep me going. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    Mandy

  10. Wow…this is just what I needed to read! I have been in a major stall for months. I started my new blog, http://www.queenbartistry.blogspot.com and it says, “It’s my life and I’m going for it!” Problem being that almost as soon as I said that and started the blog, my courage just halted and fear took ahold big time! I so related to every word you wrote and I want to thank you for encouraging me and giving my fear a kick in the pants! It’s time to move and I hope you will have much success in the future!

  11. Thanks for sharing this.

    I’m continued to be amazed in learning how many people are nayersayers, which is reflective of their inability to have vision and dreams for themselves; as such, they have tendencies to throw stones and promote fear in people such as yourself; keep pushing onward and upward. A quote that I recently learned is basically this: Build the foundation of your dreams from the bricks people throw at you.

    –Joe Breunig
    Author/poet, Reaching Towards His Unbounded Glory

  12. Oh my gosh, Kathy, I know exactly how you feel! I launched my blog, http://www.lorimayinteriors.com, just 3 days ago. It’s so exciting and so terrifying at the same time. What a wonderful job you did on this post!

    I wish you much success and luck in keeping that back door closed to fear!

    Lori

  13. Kathy –

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I felt like you were talking about my own experiences. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve realized that I am stunned, confounded, and held back by fear. It is tough to think that what is most likely holding you back is you. It is so easy to blame outside forces and circumstances, not so easy to realize that you are what needs to change. I am also making it my goal to work through this and figure out how to push through the fear and self doubt. Thank you for taking the courageous step to face your fear and share your experience.

    1. Thanks, Alana! The good thing about realizing that YOU are what’s holding you back is…YOU are the only thing on this planet you can control. We can’t solve problems if we don’t know that they exist…so learning what our weaknesses are…and facing them head on… is crucial to overcoming them.

  14. First of all thankyou so much for being courageous and writing this! I have a blog that I write on really sporadically because I worry that what I write won’t be interesting. I know few people are reading it and so I don’t bother most of the time.
    But I love writing, I have since I was little. I thought I would be a journalist at one time. I may even have a book in me one of these years. But I have to choose to be courageous too.
    I have made some huge steps in my life but I want to take bigger leaps. I was asked to write an article for a magazine a year ago and I was so scared that it wouldn’t be good enough I never did.

    So my point is bravo! You’re awesome and you’ve lit a little fire under my butt. :)

    1. Thank you Amanda!

      You’re awesome too…and I feel the same way….”I have made some huge steps in my life but I want to take bigger leaps.” <—– This is EXACTLY me!

  15. I love this post. I can relate very well to your situation as well. In my former life, before becoming an artist full-time, I was employed as a writer and communications professional. You would think that it would make this part of the business easier – not in my case.

    I love that you are able to face this fear in such a bold way. Congrats.

  16. Kathy, thank you for sharing; the post was brilliant! I, too, struggle from my fears and this year I made “The Success of Failure begins with one step” the mantra on my blog.

    And it has made a difference.

  17. Kathy- This totally hot home with me! In some ways I am not scared at all, but in other ways, I let my fear hold me back. I know that if I just keep plugging away and practice a little “fake it til you make it” all will work out!

  18. This post rings so true for me. I’ve struggled with my blog for years. I always wanted to blog with I thought should be blogged until I read Tara’s 52 weeks of blogging. So just yesterday, I decided to start anew (though after reading your post, maybe I should have totally start anew with a completely new blog site too). This time I didn’t write what I thought I should write, but I wrote what was in my heart and it felt good and it felt right. I actually got a lot of “likes” for this first time on my facebook page too.

    So, I guess, NO, I know that pushing yourself to step out of what you think others expect and doing what you want is very rewarding, and makes for a better post.

    Good luck in your venture and stay true to you… As I’ll try to stay true to me too!

    1. It’s amazing to me that staying true to ourselves is so hard. But really…it’s when we are 100% ourselves that we truly connect with others. Here’s to being real, authentic….ourselves and no one else!

  19. I so feel your pain. I just had a conversation this morning about this very thing and then had an amazing friend send this link to me. The universe must be telling me something and reading your post was encouraging.

    Please add me to your email list. I’d love to read more.

  20. Congratulations Kathy! I know where you are coming from and where you are right now. My senior of high school after 4 years on the school paper (starting as the youngest writer ever) my beloved journalism teacher awarded me the superlative “most likely to find a way to make even the most serious subject ‘cute.'” I was crushed and changed my college major as a result – I thought I was a failure before I’d even really started.
    Now I blog 3 to 5 times a week to the tune of many compliments. And, even when it scared the wapoo out of me, I reached out to Tara who reached back with a firm and friendly hand. So to make a short story long, way to go! Now go do some more and make sure it scares the wapoo out of you as well!

  21. Thank you so much for this post Kathy (and Tara). I’ve been struggling with the same fears as well. I feel lighter after reading this. I’m going to follow in your footsteps and gather my courage and put myself out there.

  22. Well done Kathy!

    I too struggle from the fear of failing, failing in doing things that I love and am passionate about.

    This post ( and tara’s action mini course) has encouraged me to keep at it and I am definitely going to adopt your motto of ‘anything is possible…if you’re passionate, persistent, and willing to work for it’.

    It looks like there are many other people out there who feel the same way about 2011 as the year of change!

  23. Somehow, I accidentally posted my comment on another post… But it was definitely meant for you, Kathy:
    ‘I SO needed to read this right now. I’m the type of person that will sit and think and plan FOREVER before being brave enough to bite the bullet. You’ve inspired me to move forward!!!’

  24. Kathy, I recognized so much of my own battle in your post that before I even finished it I dusted off an article I wrote but hadn’t yet submitted to a newsletter I help format and will send it to the editor before the night is over—I promise! My motto for 2011 is “NO to fear—YES to life!” Thanks for sharing!

  25. Kathy, I find your story inspiring and somewhat similar to mine. I wonder how many women don’t ever reach their potential in life because of fears and insecurities? Before I started my own blog, I often wondered if I could measure up to the blogs I admired. What I decided was, at least at first, I was aiming too high! A brand-new blogger isn’t expected to dive right in and be as good as the seasoned pros. So I just toddled along, and began to feel less anxious as I connected with others in the same boat. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m so glad I took the first step!

  26. Courage is such a hard thing to muster up. As an artist everything you do has a pice of you in it, so it can be self defeating if things are received well. I know I get down on myself when something I am excited about making doesn’t excite anyone else, and it happens a LOT! For me to this year is about going for it and making my dreams a reality. I’ve been blogging more, and trying to stick to my business plan (which is loose so it’s easy!). Stick with it, move forward, reward yourself!

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  28. This is a wonderful post Kathy – I hope this leads to many more guest posts across the blogosphere & that the fear lessens every time! One thing I learned last year is that imperfect action is better than no action – this really helped me begin to overcome the constant fear of not being good enough

  29. Kathy–I’m so proud of you. Halfway through your message, when you told about getting the invitation to write this guest post, you said, “My eyes got big.” All I could think was, “She has been painting big-eyed girls, but now she IS one.” You are leaping over the obstacle of fear, into ever more expansive living ! Yay you!

    Like so many others who have left comments, I’ve been journeying down some of the same roads, and it is a pure joy to meet fellow travelers.

  30. “I want to do whatever it takes to thrive. I’m tired of settling and shrinking and holding myself back.”

    Yes! This is just what I needed to hear today. Thanks for your courage and honesty, it’s so inspiring. I couldn’t agree more that the most important thing is to be real, in whatever we do, be it writing or painting or building businesses or making friends. Being real–and brave–always brings up the fear for me…but that’s often how I know I’m on the right path. Thank you for sharing your story!

  31. Kathy,
    Ya know what makes this post so amazing?!? The fact that you are one of my favorite shops on Etsy and I absolutely love your artwork! So, when you say that blogs are a great opportunity to get to know the artist, you are so right. And now that I know one of my favorite Etsy artists has a blog, guess what I’m going to do?!? That’s right…I’m going to follow it! I’m so excited because your personality seems so kick-ass!

    Tara,
    Thanks so much for having these guest posts featuring Etsy artists. IT just makes your blog 100x more amazing than it already is! There needs to be an entire blog dedicated to getting to know your favorite artists. I could just gobble up interviews for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yummy information!

  32. Wow. I thought I would read this just because I saw the link and Scoutie Girl always has awesome posts. But while reading, I really started thinking about the myriad of ways I’m fearful, even if it appears that I’m not. There are quite a few things I haven’t tackled because I’m afraid!!

    First on the list: talk about my ambitions more with my family. Give them a better idea of what’s in my head. And ignore them if they don’t think I can do it.

    Thanks for making me think and look at my life in a different way.

  33. What a great post!
    I was sooooo scared of blogging too (+ English is my second language, so it makes writing more.. challenging )

    Thank you for writing all this, for sharing and inspiring!

  34. How beautifully honest and timely! Thank you for sharing your experience and how you’ve made goals and are moving forward with your blog. I found myself doing lots of nods at the computer screen!

  35. Kathy, you are taking huge leaps. Thank you for sharing such an intimate post. I am making changes as well in battling fears. Congratulations to you and everyone else on this journey to living a life we want.

  36. Kathy, thanks for writing this. I feel exactly the same way and have let those ‘what-if-I-can’ts?’ rule my life for far too long. Your post has been incredibly inspiring :)

  37. Funny how this is an issue to bloggers world-wide – makes the world a smaller place :). Thank you for sharing Kathy – much appreciated.

  38. I believe I don’t find this post accidentally. I decided this year is THE YEAR TO LET FEAR OUT OF MY LIFE!, and your words help me so much. Thanks for sharing. My first blog was a failure not because of others just because of me. I feltbeaten before I started. But things are going to change soon. I’m beginning.

  39. Kathy, you are one of the few etsy sellers I think of as really successful! Doesn’t everyone on etsy know the Dreamy Giraffe? Anyway, great post, and keep it up. :)

  40. As a fledgling blogger (is that even how you spell fledgling)? I relate to it all but I must admit I’m not as concerned about being a great writer yet… because it’s so much damn fun. The creativity I feel from my new hobby is also feeding my current business, as it has reminded me to have some faith in the POSSIBILITIES INHERENT IN THE UNKNOWN!
    Enjoy your journey,
    Betsy

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