The Fear Of Success


When I was in Jr. High I remember having a talk with my mom and she asked me what I thought at the time was a very bizarre and moronic question. She asked, “Are you afraid of success?” What? I laughed at the question, “Afraid of success? Of course not.” I laughed so much that she was satisfied in knowing that the thought of being afraid of success was so silly that she didn’t carry on with the conversation any longer. I was confused. Wasn’t success supposed to be celebrated? How could one possibly fear something positive? It wouldn’t be long before I would find out what my mother meant.

Months away from graduating high school, I became a nervous wreck. With studying for final exams, submitting last minute college recommendations, and preparing for prom my plate became too full. The only time I actually had to myself to relax was at night when I was sleeping in the comfort of my own bed putting off all the stress until the next morning.

After a while my sleep wasn’t a reliable outlet source anymore. I began tossing and turning through the night and loosing sleep due to a particular reoccurring nightmare. In each dream the setting would be different but everything else would be the same. I would be climbing a long ladder that seemed never ending. As I climbed higher and higher I would grow curious to know how far I had gotten and look below. The moment I looked down I was overcome with the fear of being too high and before I can catch my balance, I fall. Before I can ever reach the ground I wake up panting and sweating.

This dream would reoccur so often that I began to worry myself. Seeking advice about my strange dream I decided to confide in my mother. After explaining my horrible nightmare to her she sat me down one again and tried her best to help me understand what she thought could be the reason for my reoccurring nightmare. She asked me if I recalled her asking me if I was afraid of success. Then she explained to me that although it may seem like a funny idea, often time’s people are afraid of success because they don’t know what’s to come of it. I still didn’t know what to make of it because all I ever dreamed of was being successful so why on earth would I ever be afraid? And what did this have to do with my nightmare? My questions would soon be answered as my mom continued to help me work through my nightmare. She told me that graduating high school was a very important step for me as well as for my family. I would be the first out of both parents and older brother to actually graduate high school. Even though I never really seen it as a big deal, it was. My mom believed that maybe being the first to graduate added a little pressure on me along with everything else I was dealing with. She also believed that the ladder in my nightmare symbolized success and that I could be afraid about graduating and going on to college because I was unsure of what it would be like.

I began to understand where she was coming from. College would be a new experience for me and I would be on my own. I wasn’t sure if I would fit in or be able to handle the work.

After our talk my mom assured me that my journey after graduation would be successful and that I have absolutely nothing to fear although it was perfectly normal if I had a few jitters. I was finally able to express some of my concerns and not only did I feel better about graduating high school, but this situation helped me get through a lot of fears at college. It seems really silly, but whenever I apply for jobs or internships I start to feel the anxiety of fear. Even now that I’m in my senior year of college I fear what my next move will be. All I can really say is that there’s simply nothing to it but to do it. We fear the unknown, that’s inevitable. However, this is something that I like to keep in mind during those fearful times and it may help many of you in the future, “You only miss 100% of the shots you never take.”