Why is success scary?

November 30, 2017

I’ve written a lot as of late about the fear that I have and the courage I lack. It’s weird how it’s chosen to manifest itself at such a critical point. You see, I had thought that, given some luck, success was sort of automatic: you do the work, you grow, and you become outwardly successful. I didn’t expect there would be emotional treachery involved.

I became stumped some weeks ago when given a few opportunities to advance my growth, I chickened out. I straight up cowered in fear. And more than scare me, it confused me. Why am I scared? This is what you wanted, isn’t it? We always speak of “hard work” as the necessary ingredient people lack and that which holds unsuccessful people back. You don't hear too often of people being held back by their fear of being successful.

I studied this reservation within me intensely. Why am I scared? Are you freaking kidding me? You come this far and stop at fear? Unacceptable. This is why I spoke of the need to make changes in the last few posts.

I asked a friend his thoughts, and he agreed.

“It’s objectively scary. When you have a mediocre life, nothing is expected of you.”

And I guess that’s sort of a large part of it. The spotlight is scary. My entire life I’ve spent trying to avoid it. I don’t like attention. And I’m socially reserved exactly for this reason. When you gain momentum of success, it means more people will start paying attention to you. More people will expect things of you. And that scares poor little me.

It’s amazing to what extent my subconscious will carry out actions in my life. How does it go undetected for so long? It manifests itself in so many other ways. It takes a while before you really start understanding who's in the driver's seat. There’s a sort of latency of consciousness involved.

I, and probably many of you, don’t like being disliked. And I’ve found that the more effort you place in being outwardly, in trying to attract attention to what you may be doing, the more unwanted attention you get as well. Suppressing unwanted attention in my life has been pretty easy: just stay inside, both mentally, and to some extent physically. When it comes to being entrepreneurial, staying inside won’t work. You need to get out of your shell.

"If you want to be liked, be poor.” A pithy aphorism, but my friend is right again. If you want the easy life, if you want nothing to be expected of you, if you want to be well liked and be the recipient of emotional charity, be as little as you can possibly be.

If you want more for yourself, prepare to head into the eye of the storm. Prepare to be the target of unwanted attention, ridicule, and mockery. Prepare to be emotionally unstable. Prepare to fight your fears and demons every single day.

I wasn’t prepared. I went onto the battlefield with only a paintbrush, thinking a few artistic strokes here and there was all I needed. It turns out, it requires a hero’s courage. A wild audacity. From where shall I acquire these tools? No idea. But at least now I know what I’m looking for.