The Fear of Failure
I woke up this morning feeling terrible. The post from yesterday didn’t do well, the blog I wrote sucked. I couldn’t fall back asleep and I couldn’t stop thinking about how useless my work (or I?) was. I kept blaming myself for the things I couldn’t change and felt progressively worse. As with most experiences, I captured it through writing. Here’s what happened…
Working as a freelancer is great. It gives you freedom, flexibility and independence. It also strips away any certainties, guarantees or a backup plan. You have to create this yourself. Having spoken to Daniel Gamrot, who went freelance eight years ago and works now as a personal productivity coach, we agreed that the benefits significantly outweigh the negatives. But man it’s tough!
Freelancing has many ups, but this morning I could only feel the downs. I couldn’t concentrate on the hundreds of readers I brought to the blog, I was struggling to believe that the pictures and messages I shared with the audience were all irrelevant. I couldn’t measure nor visualise any contribution I made to the companies I work for. I felt miserable.
"Today was going to be all about me and it was going to be alright."
I sat in a lotus and meditated. Kinda worked, not much though. I did some sun salutations, made breakfast, started cleaning. Anything to keep my body occupied, so the mind would switch off. And partly, it worked. I tidied up my apartment, lit up a candle and made a cup of tea. Today was going to be all about me and it was going to be alright.
I set my cosy station in my bed, surrounded by books and journals. That is also where I am sitting right now and once this blog is finished, my laptop will be tucked away for the rest of the weekend. Today (on Saturday), I am focusing purely on myself. Hopefully, by the end of tomorrow, I will be able to face the professional reality again. But right now, I need a break.
Lately, I started setting limits on my devices. I often switch my phone to a night or an aeroplane mode. This means that it doesn’t vibrate, so it doesn’t disrupt my attention. I can’t remember the last time my phone rang or made a noise. Similarly, when working on my laptop, I turn off my email and set a ‘do not disturb’ status on Slack to eliminate all notifications (the rest is disabled). It significantly improved my concentration and helped me stick to my schedule. Luckily, other members of the household don’t get offended when I ask them not to enter my room for an hour or until I open, so it works.
Working from home isn’t easy, I know, I even wrote a blog post about it, but since I do it every day, I think I can manage pretty well. What is a problem, however, is my self-esteem. In this increasingly virtual and visual reality, I tend to compare myself to others. A LOT. Who doesn’t??? And that’s not okay! I know I shouldn’t, I know it’s harmful, but I just can’t stop.
Like this morning, at 5 am, when the first thought I had was - did my photo get more likes? Last time I checked was midnight and since then, most people were likely to be asleep. So the unsurprising answer was - NO. But that killed me. I hate rejection and not liking my picture means to me rejecting my work. What a stupid illness the modern age's created.
Originally, I wanted to put those feelings into my journal, but I knew it would be poisonous, so I put the negative energy back where it came from - to the Internet. I'm sorry if it impacts you in a bad way, but I have to get it out of my system and this is the only way viable for me. Feel free to do the same! I'm here to listen...
I spent this morning doing the things I love. I cuddled the dog, did downward dog and other (not-necessarily dog-related) activities. I felt a little better by the end of it. Now with tea and cookies, I am ready to switch off and drift away to my other world. Hopefully, it will make me feel refreshed and ready for new challenges tomorrow. But if not, I will take another day off. Because that’s the best part of freelancing - you don’t have to ask for permissions, you just do what your body tells you. Your responsibility is to listen to it!
Photo credit: Angi Qin Wang