Anxiety Stirred Useful

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

“Mommy come quick,
The dreaming tree has died.”
The air is growing thick
A fear he cannot hide
The dreaming tree has died.

~ Dave Matthews Band, The Dreaming Tree

In the first couple weeks of January I’ve been doing a bit of thinking and journaling and writing and goal-setting and sharing and publishing and thinking some more and second-guessing. After journaling about a new project I’m working on, I checked out 750words’ content analyzation to find that I’m apparently feeling some anxiety about it.

The project I’m working on is an eBook on Coming Out. A social resource guide for people who are or are contemplating coming out of the closet, I’m scouring the interwebs for what I think are the best news sources for the LGBT community, the most engaging gay/lesbian people to follow, and where to go for (free) support and help when you’re ready to take action. (Sneak-peek-teaser version is so close I bet you can taste it. Salty-savory…yum!)

The basics are in, and now I’m writing scripts to make it easier for those coming out to create conversation with friends, family, coworkers, and strangers, based on my own personal experience and those around me. In the middle of my writing I feel the fear creep through pores, into my veins, my heart, my lungs, suffocating my words.

What if this isn’t helpful? What if people don’t want help? What if people don’t want my help? What if I’m useless?

I could say that this was just a passing moment and I got over myself. That I realized how valuable my experience is because it’s mine and was useful to me. That I thought about all the LGBT people out there who are searching for answers, for resources, for help, and then realized with a twinkle in my eye and a spark in my soul that this is the work I’m supposed to be doing and I feel great about moving forward!

But that’d be some bullshit you’d see right through.

So, what to do when you know what your purpose is, when you know that what you’re doing is important and worthwhile and necessary, when you know that you’re on your right path, and still those seeds of doubt start growing roots and the roots of your fruits are suffocating you?

Sourcing the Disconnect

When I have hesitation about moving forward in a project, it means I’m disconnected. Disconnected from the project, from its purpose, from myself and/or my values in some way, shape or form. In the case of this eBook, I realized I’ve become connected to fear (What if I’m useless?), which inherently disconnects me from my purpose (using my experience to help those who are where I have been).

You seek up a big monster
for him to fight your wars for you
But when he finds his way to you, the devil’s not
going, “Ha ha, ha ha”

~ Dave Matthews Band, Seek Up

If you fix a crack in the sink when the pipes under the house are broken, you’re only taking care of the surface and not the foundation. It’s good to know whether or not a leak is at the surface or below the house before you get started on any patching. It’s also good to know when it’s a monster in your head having you imagine the leak.

So let me answer the question fear is asking. What if I’m useless? I realize this question isn’t related to my project, it’s related to me. If I’m useless, I might as well curl up in a ball in a rocking chair and watch the Sci-fy Channel all day while slurping Top Ramen, noodle by noodle. Simply asking the question reminds me that I am most certainly not useless. So what’s the real question?

Making Anxiety Useful

The real question becomes: What if this eBook is useless? Hmm. Good question. What if it is? If it’s useless, I’ve failed.

Or have I?

What if instead of failing, I’ve learned? Anxiety begins to creep back in, slowly raising my heart rate, filling my lungs, grasping at my throat. I wonder, How many times has ‘it’s not quite right’ kept it from being ‘just what someone needed?” Heart beats faster. Yes, there’s something here.

We fear so much that something will not be perfect that we quit before it can be anything at all. Sure, this eBook may not be the end-all-be-all of Coming Out resources. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a resource, and that it’s my gift to the world. A gift which no one else can give because it beholds my own blood, sweat and tears: my experience.

I can’t believe that we would
Lie in our graves
Wondering if we had
Spent our living days well.
I can’t believe that we would
Lie in our graves
Dreaming of things that we
Might have been.

~ Dave Matthews Band, Lie in Our Graves

And then it (what I already know to be true) hits me square in the eye: Failure is what leads us to success.

Pete Rose has 4,256 hits in his career, the most all time in Major League Baseball. He’s also first all-time in outs made, with 10, 328—more than double the number of hits he had in his career.

Another question: How many times have I feared making an out that I failed to even try to get a hit? Another lesson.

Anxiety is simply a warning of possible failure. Maybe if there’s not a possibility of failing, I need to reevaluate my project and go bigger. Playing it safe is good when I’m installing a ceiling fand and messing with electrical wires. Taking risks is absolutely essential to my growth, both professionally and as a human being, when I put my life’s purpose in play.

How do you use anxiety to move you forward?

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