Matchstick Fears

I'm not scared to admit (ironically), that I am a bit of a wimp. I cannot sit through the trailer of a horror movie, let alone the movie itself. A friendly "boo!" will knock me right over. I think Riverdale is scary and I pause it every time there's a hint of suspense (don't judge me on this one...) Blood makes me squirm, cuts make me shudder. Eerie high-pitched string quartet music will honestly make me bolt out of a room. Even the lighting of a match is no mean feat for me. 

But underneath these monsters which hide under my bed, is something even more sinister. Something that can't be fixed with a mug of hot chocolate or a good night's sleep. Something that keeps my eyes fixed on the ceiling in the dead of the night. Fear of never being good enough. Fear of failure. Fear of letting everyone down. Fear of letting myself down. 

You see, the thing with following your passions is that it's mind-numbingly frightening. It's the real deal. It's not a half-arsed maths test on exponentiation that you convince yourself doesn't matter. No, you can't brush past this because it's important and it's personal. Maybe it's art, music, writing or something else entirely, but it feels like you are revealing a piece of your soul to the world. It's like cutting out a part of yourself and leaving it in the middle of the road for anyone to ruthlessly run over, or worse, ignore completely. 

Vulnerability is scary as hell. Let's admit it. No one is comfortable putting themselves in this position which is, in my opinion, the equivalent of walking the streets naked while having strangers squint and prod at your shivering and awkward limbs. Being open means being open to judgement, criticisms and pain. But let me tell you: vulnerability does not make you weak. Hell, it is the complete opposite. Being vulnerable means being courageous and putting yourself in the front line. Like going to someone and saying, "hey, you can totally tear apart my heart, it's cool!" And for that, I applaud you. 

For some reason, we all have this ingrained notion that we always have to get it right. We all strive for perfection and when failure inevitably tiptoes around, we fall dramatically to our knees, fists clenched, proclaiming that "my life is OVER!" Or maybe that's just me. But what you need to realise is that failure is okay. In fact, it's good. It proves that you tried something and that it didn't work. That's all it is. 

Success doesn't mean getting it right. Success is hard work. It takes guts and it takes time. Sometimes reaching your goals doesn't involve neatly ticked off to-do lists and gold stars. Sometimes it's working late into the night getting it wrong for the umpteenth time and just not giving up. Sometimes it's lighting a matchstick with shaky hands and unreasonable fears and keeping the burnt sticks as little trophies of pride, evidence of conquering one fear at a time.

Maybe success is just not giving up. 

Yes, it's terrifying. But what's even more frightening is not doing the things you love, denying yourself your passions and your dreams. That's a terrifying thought. 

So I take out a match. I take a deep breath. I strike. The flame falters. 

I strike again. This time, it burns brighter than ever. 

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