When I was 15, my European History teacher asked the class, “If you were king, would you rather lead your subjects with fear or love?” (We were studying Machiavelli. Or something.)
He picked students at random. The first guy he asked quickly responded, “Fear.” So did the second, and the third.
The first girl he asked?
Said love. The answers went along gender lines for some time. It was as if we were lining up at a middle school dance: guys on one side, girls on the other. The Sweet Girly Love Camp on one side, the Powerful Scary Man Camp on the other.
And then he called on me.
“Fear,” I answered without hesitation.
I was the only one in the class who bucked the gender trend. I’ve often wondered since then if the answers truly would have fallen so clearly along male/female lines had the question been asked anonymously. I’ll never know, and ultimately it doesn’t really matter anyway.
What the exercise did was illuminate the way my classmates wanted to be seen — and the way I wanted to be seen.
I was a vicious competitor in those days, and I was fueled by fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of being imperfect. Fear of being unlovable if I fell short of expectations.
Later, when I began to fall short of my narrow definition of perfection, my fear of failure somehow shifted to a fear of my own voice, my own power, and maybe more importantly, my own success. Many people who know me may be surprised to hear this. Others? Not at all.
Many of us are afraid to do what we truly love — not only for fear that we might fail at it but also for fear that it actually might be amazing.
So today I’m here to tell you that I’m no longer afraid of failure. I’m no longer afraid of what I truly love.
And what is that, you ask? What does this dog-owning, cupcake-baking, home-redecorator really love?
I love writing movies.
That other stuff is pretty awesome too, but its relationship to my calling is merely tangential. So, this is me saying thank you for coming along with me on this ride. Thank you for reading about all of those things while I found my voice again — while I explored everything that inspires me — and everything that doesn’t. Thank you for bearing with me while I sank into the abyss of despair again and again.
Thank you for being the place where I grew, fell, and picked myself the fuck back up again.
There’s so much more I could say about all I’ve shed this year, but this is not the time, the place, or the post for that.
Instead, I’ll leave you with this. I made it. And I’m not afraid to post it even though it has a typo in it. It’s not perfect, and I don’t care. I like it a little better for its imperfection anyway.
I’m off to write a movie, people.