Last Friday at the BlogNation Japan shindig, I recorded some interviews with a few of the attendees. As I held the microphone in front of them and listened through my headphones, I kept thinking, “Wow, how am I ever going to be able to chop this up and rearrange it into a coherent story?” But the truth is, every time I start a new project, the same kind of fear and doubt run through my mind. It’s called “anxiety.” I feel it almost all the time, unless I’m doing something that I have 100% confidence in. (Those things include teaching, training, and troubleshooting PCs.)
The way I’m learning to come to terms with anxiety is to ask myself, “Well, if it all goes to hell, what’s the absolute worst thing that can happen, and how will I deal with it?”
If my attempt at creating a professional-sounding audio program to the best of my ability ends up sounding like a junior high school social studies project, I won’t lose any money, friends, or respect from others. I won’t fall over dead of humiliation. The time I spend on it won’t be wasted, because I’ll learn from it. And I’ll do it again on another topic; I’ll keep at it until I improve.
I realize I’m expecting myself to hit it out of the ballpark my first time at bat. I have a life-long tendency to expect too much out of myself, and it prevents me from starting or finishing challenges unless I force myself, kicking and screaming all the way. That’s the main reason why I’m here, blogging, podcasting and videoblogging. Because it scares the bejesus out of me if I let it.
I admire people (like my boss) who can jump into something new without any experience or a detailed plan and risk failure, so all this online stuff is my attempt at becoming more like them. It has never been easy, even after two years of constant practice. Core beliefs don’t change easily, even if on an intellectual level you know they’re false.
Right after I write a post, create a video or release a podcast, that voice tells me, “You’re not good enough.” But lately, something different is happening. I’ve been sampling bits of my old blog posts and podcasts that I have no recollection of creating and they seem like they’re from someone else. And you know what? They’re interesting, and often funny. When enough time passes that I can separate the critical, perfectionist “me” from the creative me, I can actually enjoy my own work. Maybe if I keep reading and listening to my past, I’ll finally catch up to the present and finally be at peace with myself.