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  • Leah E. Welker

My Final Fears: Success and Hate

Updated: Apr 5


Man standing with arms wide open in front of a valley fully of mist and a setting sun. Photo credit: Zac Durant on Unsplash.


Time to consider my final fears: success and hate. You'll soon see why they belong together in this post.


Fear of success

I have a fear of failure, yes, but it's also the safest outcome. Success—as most others would define it—is the far more dangerous fate.

 

Though I would like to make a living off my writing, my dream is for simply making a normal income. That, to me, seems the perfect outcome: being able to do what I love without having all the problems that come with more.

 

Overwhelming financial success seems as problematic to me as it would be beneficial. I equate it to winning the lottery (and really, the odds of making millions from writing seem about the same to me). I think we can safely conclude by now that winning the lottery doesn't make you happier and in fact introduces a lot of problems into your life: a flood of requests for money, the isolation from cutting ties with those you can't trust, the difficulty of managing that sum, the human tendency to return to a baseline happiness, and so on.

 

I see the overwhelming financial success that comes from writing as being even worse. This isn't one of those ways that you can quietly make millions and blissfully able to go about your life as normal. An author who makes millions likewise makes headlines (unfortunately, in my mind). Yes, a lottery winner makes headlines, but usually only for a short time and only in certain narrow circles (I don't follow who wins the lottery, do you?), but an author is selling a product with their name and picture on it every time. And that comes with a much more permanent, damaging kind of fame. Those dollars come at the price of anonymity, privacy, and peace—all things I am terrified to give up.

 

Fame has never appealed to me. Why would you want everyone to know your name? I just can't comprehend that. All I see are fame's drawbacks.


Even if a fairy godmother could wave her wand and guarantee that everyone who knew my name and face loved me, I wouldn't take her offer of fame. I don't want to give up blending in with the crowd. I want to continue going about my life without being randomly badgered when I'm just trying to run an errand or enjoy myself on an outing—when I just want to be. My introversion can hardly handle life as it is right now. I can't imagine being famous on top of everything; even if I was universally adored, I'd probably never leave the house.


Universal adoration, however, is as laughably impossible as a pumpkin carriage pulled by horse-mice. And that leads into my final fear.

 

Fear of hate


When someone becomes a public figure, they undergo a much different transformation in the minds of humanity, a cruel one much more like the kind that Cinderella's stepmother would enforce: the famous person becomes an object. A living statue on display in the public square. Not a simple human being with all just as many flaws and virtues as you yourself have, with just as many feelings, dreams, and fears. No, now the famous person is simply a thing, almost as fictional as a character in a story, for anyone to comment on as kindly or cruelly as they please without any regard for the person's realness or humanity. The figure, now that they have been placed on a pedestal for all to see, must be absolutely perfect and must absolutely agree with each passerby or face their wrath.


We live in a world now with an astonishing lack of compassion and curiosity. A society that condemns first and asks questions later (or more likely, never). A world driven by kinds of empathy that only connects them to the people that look and sound and believe exactly like them and burns bridges with anyone else, then lobs grenades of hatred to the other side.


At the indie publishing summit I virtually attended last week, one presenter said that you know you're making it big when you start getting hate.


Hate, as I'm using the word here, differs from constructive feedback. The giver's primary intention is not to help but to hurt, and that makes their comments poisonous. I'm still far from the point when I have to face that poison, but the fear of how I'll cope comes and goes in crashing waves more severe than any of the other fears right now.


I think that's because . . .

  • I haven't faced it yet and I don't know how I'll react when I do.

  • There's no way to keep it out. I simply have to face it.


Yeah, I was bullied a bit in high school, but nothing on the scale that I'm fearing now. I'm highly empathic, and I work so hard to make sure everything I do makes the world a better place. I'm afraid that the first time someone tells me I'm a horrible monster, I'll just . . . break.


Because for a bit, I might just believe them.


For a bit. I've grown enough and have a good enough support network that I think I'll recover. Thank goodness I didn't start out on this journey any sooner in life, though.


As I mentioned in my second bullet, if I'm successful, there will simply be no way to keep all the hate out. I can put in some safeguards, but if I'm going to put myself out there as I feel called to do, there's no way to completely dodge all the rotten tomatoes.


For now, I think all the work I've been doing to deal with feedback in healthy ways will also help me deal with hate. I can't believe I forgot to mention in my last post that one other thing I'm doing is really hammering in my mindfulness practice. It's no longer a nice-to-do for me. It is now a necessity to maintain all facets of my wellbeing. In fact, I followed my meditation app's ten-day plan on fear, which gave me some coping and reframing strategies, such as breath control and grounding.


Oddly, one of the most effective techniques it taught me is the affirmation In this moment, I am safe. Repeating that to myself in the middle of a practice had a powerful effect on my mind and body, reminding me that I have nothing to fear right now. Somehow, that helps me also have hope that in the moment my fears strike, I'll be able to face them.


Several presenters at last week's summit mentioned they hate they get, and oddly, that helped. Because they all seemed like kind, caring people who are trying to do good. And if they can get hate and still be kind and caring and continue on the path, getting stronger as they go . . . then maybe I can too.


Why face my fears?


"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." —Jack Canfield

I also have to keep reminding myself of the reason I'm doing this. For me to face all these fears, I've really had to dig into the why, and that why has to be more powerful than simply following a dream or wanting to make a living. For me, the most powerful why so far has been to imagine the person who needs my books.


I imagine her to be a lot like I was once upon a time: young and uncertain, disheartened by school and life, worried about what the future held and if she was strong enough to face it. Wondering, deep down, if she mattered. If she could be loved. If she could make a difference. If she could make her family proud. If she was enough.


I'm publishing these books for her. I wrote them for me, for the me I once was, the one that needed these books, and the me I am now, who still needs them.


But I am sharing them for her. Because I know somewhere out there she exists, and she needs them, and if I have to run a marathon through a hailstorm of stones slung my way to finally fall to my knees in front of that single girl and place those books in her hands . . .


Then that's what I'm going to do.


This is for her.




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