have a confession to make: I am scared. When a friend asked me what my word for the year is, I thought about it and I answered: FEARLESS. It is a desire, a longing, to be fearless in the pursuit of what I love, what I think it is important, what makes me keep trying, and learning, and growing.

But the truth is: I am very far from being fearless.

In this very moment, my only desire is to crawl in my bed, conveniently positioned right behind me, hide under my blue blanket in my blue bedroom, with a book and a cup of tea. I am secretly wishing to get a cold, not something serious, but bad enough to be able to cancel everything I planned for the month without feeling guilty. I could just say “Hey, world, you see, I am sick! I really have to stay in bed until, at least, spring”.

Unfortunately, I am too much aware on why I am feeling like this and too stubborn to let the fear win. Sometimes, being stubborn and having a lot of pride is not a good thing.

This year is supposed to be the year I will finally come out of my bud, and start make a living by sharing what I know, I love and I am passionate about: Creativity and the creative process. Oh, yes, and painting.

In the last weeks, I launched my first 12 weeks program, I put in calendar my future art workshops, I laid out nicely the contents of a whole book, I planned my trainings and team building events for organizations. And then I got brilliantly and spectacularly stuck. 

Why? Let me write down all the naked and brutal truth.

The 5 reasons why I am scared, terrified and stuck.

    • I am terrified by what I decided to pursue. Making a living painting and guiding people in using their creative mind? I mean, who do I think I am to do that? Here they are, all the feelings of worthlessness, the “I am not good enough” thoughts and all of that, back with a vengeance when I thought I put them to rest. (Seriously, will they ever stop?)
    • I am taking time out of my existing business and out of my family to create my own opportunities, to develop something that could absolutely and completely fail. I am saying no to other opportunities, I am staying away from my kids more than usual, to follow a dream.
    • Ok, I launched my program. I put it nicely on my website, created a FB event, even put it on Eventbrite. And now it is out there. All alone. And I don’t want anyone to really know about it. Because if I spend a lot of time and energy in properly launching it, and nobody register, wouldn’t that be an horrible failure? I am seriously thinking to just pull down the page and make like it never existed. So if nobody signs up… Well, how could they? It is not my fault, the program doesn’t even exist. (Stay with me, I know there is some logic in this)
    • I am not painting. I have a big, amazing studio, for which I pay a lot of rent money, and I am not going there. I dreamed of having my own art studio since I was a kid, and now that I have it, I am not using it. Because I am scared that I will never be a good enough painter. It goes like this: I start a new series, get all excited, paint and paint and paint, then I start feeling stuck, I think my idea was not so good after all, and I start avoiding my half-finished paintings. Then I usually force myself to start again. And again, and again. It is quite an exhausting cycle.
    • Last but not least: I’ve been hit (again) by depression. Yes, exactly when I need all my energies and passion to make everything work, the black dog is back again. I’ve suffered from depression since I was a child, so I know exactly how it works. Depression is the best liar ever: It tells me I am not worth anything, it tells me nobody is interested in what I have to say, that is not much anyway, and it tells me to just go and hide in a deep hole and disappear. I know it is all lies, but oh they sound so real and convincing. So now, I am trudging in the mud, bringing with me all the weight of those lies, trying to ignore them and go on, because I cannot let depression win again.

Here it is, the raw truth of my fear. The “what if I am not good enough” fear, and the “sure you are not good enough” voice of depression.

Let me be clear on this: Fear is a good thing when it stops you from doing something stupid or dangerous. This is why we have it. But the fear I have now, this is not useful. It is stopping me from doing what I love, and I will not allow that.

So I decided to ask myself: What is the meaning of this fear? How can I use it? 

My fear wants to protect me from failure. It wants me to be happy, safe and protected. It knows everything new can bring danger, even if it is not physical danger. If my program fails, it will be hard. But I need to go on, and try, and fail and fail again. It is really the only way. 

I need to put my ideas put, and let them try and, maybe, fail. I just hope it will be, in case, a spectacular fail! So it will be even more spectacular when I will try again (I told you I am stubborn).

I need to show up no matter what.

I need to paint mediocre artworks to be able to learn and grow. If I’d even become the painter I dream to be, I want to look back at those paintings with love, remembering that I was scared, but I did it anyway.

I am not at all as Georgia O’Keefe (yet), but I’ll do my best to get there.

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I’ve wanted to do.

Georgia O’Keefe, Artist


Written by Eleonora Spagnuolo