I really don’t mind being first in the food line. When a group of people get together and a line needs to form to get the food service started, I have no problem being That Person that picks up the first plate. I definitely don’t mind being the first one to read a book or see a show. I don’t really need anyone’s opinions about whether or not I should be reading or watching something. I’ll even go first in a group of people when we’re sharing thoughts or our work.
But I don’t always want to go first. I’ve read that I should be the one to go first when making friends. I’m supposed to take the initiative and approach a person and start a conversation. Well, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually done that. The thought paralyzes me.
The whole author/publishing world is another place where you have to be the one to go first. It’s hard. You have to send out your work first, before you know whether or not it will be accepted by someone. When means you also have to spend your time writing and polishing it first, before you know if your time was spent wisely.
Going first is an exercise in sheer will. Most of the time you will not be invited to go first; you just have to do it. Which means you have to conquer a few fears.
Fear of Rejection
When it comes to making friends, I’ve never been outright rejected. At least, not since junior high. But the thought that stops me in my tracks is born out of the fear that whomever I approach first did not want me to approach them because I’m lame or boring or dressed in clothes that are so yesterday. When it comes to writing, the fear of rejection kept my story in a drawer for years before I sent it out.
Fear of Being Fruitless
I don’t like wasting my time. I only want to pursue things that will have benefits in the end. I don’t know if a person and I will connect, so I don’t want to be the one to go first and waste my time or theirs. It’s a hard thing to spend hours on a story without the assurance of readership or compensation. But all writers must start out this way.
Fear of Scrutiny
I have an intense need to do the correct thing. I want to know that I did things the right way. I might hold back from going first because I want to see how others did something, just so I can do it the right way too. The problem is there is quite a bit of life that is not about correct or incorrect. People will tell you they didn’t like how you did something, but that doesn’t mean it was wrong. But you have to go first, even knowing that the Peanut Gallery is ready and waiting to tell you that you should have done something differently. Maybe they’re right. Maybe they aren’t. And honestly, this will happen whether or not you go first.
I have no magic formula to help you get over this fears. You just have to embrace it. Go first, and show others behind you that these fears are actually quite powerless when it comes to whether or not your successful.
Still aren’t sure? Well, I’ll go first and you can watch me and see.
What fears keep you from going first?