I’m one of those people who lets fear hold me back. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t normally name it as such, I have a long list of pseudonyms that I call this behaviour like “What’s the point in working hard, I’ll get decent grades anyway” or “Well, I wouldn’t have gotten it anyway”.
As I grow up and the real world has begun to tower over me like the proverbial black cloud thundering about how I am never going to get a job and I have wasted my time at Uni not doing anything that will help me achieve something great. So I took the executive decision at Easter to say fuck it and go out on a limb. I applied to be the deputy editor of the independent student newspaper at my uni thinking, there’s no way I’ll get it, I’ll be made a sub-ed and that’ll do me. I went into the interview with all my usual confidence and answered some of the questions really well and some of them awfully but I made my way through it.
Somehow I got called back for a second interview, I figured because the current editors had never met me in person, I mean, to this day I’m not even sure if they know if I can write well because I’ve not written anything for the paper. Anyway, to my shock they didn’t offer me deputy, they offered me editor. In charge of the whole thing. Responsible for the paper they had built from nothing. It would be a lie to say that I hadn’t daydreamed about this, but I have a vivid imagination and a lust for power so of course I had. I also, apparently make life altering decisions in a heartbeat because the current Editor-in-Chief hadn’t even finished saying “You can take a few days to think about it” before I said “yes”.
This is where fear comes back into the story because in that moment, looking at these guys I’d never met before, I knew I could do this, I knew that there was no one better than me for this job and that all my no bullshit-taking, organising, hell-hath-no-fury-like-me attitude on life was perfect for this. So I said yes. I wasn’t afraid, I was sure, I was strong and would not waiver. I went out drinking and dancing with the current editors and my best friends, bursting with happiness and loving my life.
Then I sobered up and the mind-crushing panic settled in. How could I have said yes? How could they have offered it to me? I struggled to breath. I stopped sleeping. I was facing a long, dark tunnel of paralysing fear. My friends had to put up with me begging them to tell me that I could do this, that I can do this, on a regular basis. In the three days this fear lasted, I must have asked for more confirmation and reassurance from my friends than I have done in the past two years combined.
But why? Where did it come from? Was it because of who the current editors are? The fact that they built this successful company from nothing since August or because they are two of the most switched on guys I have ever met? Am I scared of not living up to their incredibly high standards or is it the pressure I have put on myself? In the past two days, my Twitter account has had a significantly professional makeover and people I’ve never met have started adding my on Facebook. My happy, quiet little corner of the internet and the universe has suddenly been invaded by this new role and I’ve not just been thrown into the deep-end but I’ve gone from a puddle to the middle of the Atlantic.
With things like this going on, you might think that a little bit of fear would be expected, natural and I would have to agree. I’d be more concerned if I wasn’t scared but I wouldn’t object to there being a touch less of the constant need to hyperventilate.
Over the weekend, I have, with the current Editor-in-Chief, presided of a couple dozen interviews with candidates for sub-ed positions and not once have I been called a fraud, this, I consider a success. But, there’s still so much to learn, so many more places where I could stumble and collide into disaster. Even though I know that there is no way that the guys are going to let me drown or expect me to know everything straight away, that’s why there are going to be a million training sessions, I am struggling to keep the voices out of my head.
This ramble has in part been for therapeutic reasons but also because, I am the most confident, strongest, determined person that I know, most of the time, and I am still a neurotic, insecure mess. So if sometimes the dark clouds of despair start in on you, remember that they descend on us all sometimes but with one breath at a time, hopefully, they will blow away.
And failing that, if we’re supposed to do something everyday that scares us, I’ve filled my quota for the past 20 years and the next 15.