darling, just freaking do it



There’s that thing you want to do. You know the one. Maybe it’s a course you want to take (or make and sell online), a skill you want to learn, a place you want to go, a person you want to ask to dinner.

It’s the blog you haven’t started yet.

It’s the half-finished manuscript on your hard drive that you haven’t touched in six months.

It’s the saxophone that you almost – almost – learned to play.

It’s the martial arts studio or dance studio or yoga studio you always pass on the way home and never quite manage to check out – even though you’re curious.

You get where I’m going with this.

We talk ourselves out of the stuff that we really, really want to do.

We think we’re being sensible. We have our reasons. No time/ no money/ no talent/ no obvious pay-off in my career or my love life. Don’t want the commitment, the obligation, the responsibility. Don’t want the humiliation of being really sucky at something I’ve never done before. Don’t want the tedium of being a beginner. Don’t want to do something I can’t do well or perfectly.

We’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid of success.

We had some traumatic saxophone/yoga/writing/puppet-making incident in early childhood.

Somebody told us — when we were too young to recognize how wrong they were, how full of absolute bullshit — that we are not creative.

That inner voice. So rational. The kind of voice that wears sensible shoes.

What if you listened closely to it, absorbed all the reasons, and went ahead and did it anyway? What if you let one shining reason for outweigh several reasons against?

As human beings we are slanted toward the negative: the lack, the absence, the potential dangers. We are primed to respond in a way that keeps us safe in our caves, away from predators that could eat us and high places we could stumble off of and enemies that could kill us (or force us into unflattering polyester).

The negative always trumps the positive. Always, always, always, unless you’ve got a Mary Poppins thing going on. It’s why you get twelve compliments and one critical remark – and guess which comment you find yourself stewing over five hours later. It’s why, to nurture and protect your relationship, you and your partner need five positive interactions for every negative interaction just to break even.

You will always find more reasons not to do something than to do it.

So listen to your curiosity instead. Your sense of play. Your longing for wonder.

You don’t have to commit to some ten-year drive toward excellence. You don’t have to see, right now, an obvious pay-off for your investment. Pay-offs aren’t always obvious. Take a step, an action, and you set off a series of minor changes that subtly alter the world around you. Keep taking steps, and who knows what those changes bring into your life. Where they will take you, or what window they will open onto some fabulous horizon, or how they will ultimately move your soul.

Do it, because not to do it is to die a tiny death.

Do it, because it moves you a little more deeply into the world.

Do it, because it helps you remember who you are.

Even if it doesn’t work out for you, the decision to embrace yes begins a new habit, a new method of response, a new adventure.

Small things have a way of adding up to leaps of beauty.

And that’s the kind of thing that makes a life.

Tweet: darling, just freaking do it http://ctt.ec/1ec2r+

Feb 24, 2014

20 comments · Add Yours

“We’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid of success.” …

People spend a lot of time addressing the first; the second is often forgotten. And is forgotten more often in women. An international education study years ago showed that girls in girls-only schools achieved better academically than girls in mixed schools.; whereas boys in boys-only schools achieved less well academically than boys in mixed schools. It was uncool for girls to succeed ahead of boys, statistically; and it was motivating for boys to succeed ahead of girls.

I don’t advocate for private school, single gender schools, etc – but it’s telling that sometimes we’re more afraid to succeed than to fail. Sometimes, we see success as “not cool”.

That’s why your post today is so good!!


I hear you. I recently came up against this in myself + finally started addressing it…

It makes total sense — girls grow up hearing don’t be too much of this, don’t be too much of that, ambition is bad, power is bad, be smart but not too smart, don’t outshine others and make them feel bad, and god forbid you are ‘intimidating’. oh, and you’re supposed to date someone who is more successful and makes more money than you, so the higher you climb the fewer your options…successful powerful women are cold heartless bitches, are too ‘manly’, etc. and, oh yeah, we can’t have it all, you can’t be successful *and* a good mom.

underlying message is that if you’re successful, you won’t be loved.


@justine musk

Yes to everything you just wrote Justine. It’s not just school of course, but magazines, tv, films, novels, advertising, etc … most of all the self-help books women turn to because they feel they’re failing but they’re not allowed to succeed by being the best of themselves either … Insane! Oh, and UNTRUE. Maybe we need to flip education on its head, and teach men to love women who aren’t afraid to try, fail and also succeed?


I think there are a lot of men out there who love women, respect women, want women to be the best of themselves, and would happily be with a successful woman. (And I’m not talking about the slackers and leeches who would take advantage.) But they often don’t get the recognition they deserve, partly because as women we’re still conditioned to go for signs of power and financial security (after all, it’s not just us but our offspring at stake). How many twentysomething women know to put ‘genuinely supportive’ HIGH on the list of qualities to look for in a mate?


This post really resonated with me. I seem to always talk myself out of doing something for exactly the reasons you describe – I’m being sensible, there’s no apparent pay-off etc. I really needed to read a post like this today, so thank you!


Thank you Justine. There is no more perfect time than now. I have to write my own role or else I’m stuck in a world where I feel comfortable and not good enough.
So,… here we go,…


@Gemma I do it too. When I write these posts, I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to anybody else. We teach what we most need to learn. :)


@Craig Stark Comfortable is kind of deadly that way, isn’t it? It keeps us parked in front of the TV instead of living and working close to our soul. All best!


Thanks for this. This is the reason I decided to back to school to become a teacher. Though I’d always felt the call, I’d convinced myself teaching would be a terrible option. No money, no support, public ridicule. Still, I realized I’d rather try and fail than never try at all. Maybe it’ll wind up being a waste of time and money but maybe not. It’s better than living with my parents until my novel takes off.


“We’re afraid of success.”

Seems we have more discussions and advice on how to deal with failures and not enough conversations on how to handle success. Failures and setbacks mean there’s still a goal(s) to reach, and proceed onwards. Success connotates that goals have been met, the “end” has been reached. We hear more about achieving successes than about maintaining success. With maybe an underlying tone of “ok, you worked your butt off to get here and how much more work do you have to do now that you’re there?” going on, as well. It doesn’t help to read bios or interviews on people who are successful – because they’re still chasing more/other successes at the same time. There’s an implied thought that if you are successful you may still not be satisfied.

I think many talk themselves out of doing things because they just don’t want to be disappointed. They may do it, and it’s just not what they expected it to be. They may succeed and discover “that’s not it” either. Too much emphasis on the results instead of the process. The journey is where the real fun is :)


i am contemplating for the first time in my life, that doing thing MY way is not a sign of my being ‘wrong’ or ‘making mistakes’. It’s just the way I am, being who I am. However, it’s always been discouraged and whatever I deemed as successful was never celebrated or highlighted…only when I ‘f-up’ or not succeed do I get all the negative feedback…and so that’s what I have internalized for so many bloody years!! time to see my own ways as my own successes – regardless of anyone else’s opinions or ‘ways of doing things’. I don’t fit their way…and will always fail in ‘their’ way because it’s not being true to ‘my way’. Time to have bigger balls, I guess!! :-)


Thanks for the motivation! I think I have a few things in this category I need to tackle. Often my inner doubt convinces me not to take a risk. But I have found that sometimes mentioning my interest to a friend is a good thing. They often encourage me to give it a try. They are usually more of a cheerleader than my inner self telling me I will be no good at what I haven’t dared to try. Next up – Open Mic!


This really motivated me to make a major life change. Thanks.


you rock. that is all :)


Thanks for the comment Justine. It isn’t just women who are afraid of success. This applies to a lot of men too.

I wish succeeding was just about handling feelings and over coming fears. I am not afraid of success, in fact I think I am too hungry for it. I think that actually hinders me from being successful. You know, how the more you want something the more people try to deprive you of it.

I didn’t grow up with the philosophy that women shouldn’t be the best. But it feels like the whole world is against me. At work I am often branded as too strong headed. The one that no one wants to argue with or can not win with. I am not unreasonable, I just come up with valid arguments that they don’t have an answer for.
You know what my boss put in my performance review? She makes closing statements in the meetings. So from their perspective if you bring a pointless and time consuming argument to a reasonable conclusion, when people are talking just for the sake of it, then that’s negative thing to do. Then I am branded too pushy or too aggressive. Where I work, I am the only female member of the team. I have often noticed a lot of behaviours are normal for men but the same behaviours makes us a bitch. I think if I can figure out a way around this, I can make more progress in life. I will sure share it when I discover it.


I’d be the last person to say that success is just a matter of handling feelings + overcoming fears (you have to overcome your fear just so you don’t take yourself out of the game). You’re right that men can get away with behaviors that you can’t — people expect (whether they consciously realize it or not) women to be warm, supportive, accomodating, so when you are perceived as violating those expectations you get penalized. This is a fascinating read about how to navigate the currents that often hold women back at work: What Works for Women At Work all best.


It’s that inner voice!! It can either bully you or be your servant. You must train your mind to be your biggest fan :).


So needed this right now. I just closed a window where I was about to sign up for an online course. And I contemplated and just dropped the idea. It seems too expensive, what if it’s not worth it, I probably know the topic already. Yeah, let’s chuck it! And there it went out of the window.

But you are right. For once I have to start taking actions in life than just say ‘no’ all the fucking time. Thanks so much. This is gonna be my mantra for this year. And I’m pretty sure it will work.


I just starting taking ballet again after decades away. The weight I’ve put on, the expense, my weak ankles – all reasons not to go. And every week I leave class exhausted and smiling.


Great post – I certainly connect with the ‘fear of success and failure’ simultaneously.

It’s the voice that’s meaning is to protect us is instead getting in the way of allowing us to grow and be free.

I read a book called ‘Mindset’ by Carolyn Dweck where she talks about having a fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset.

For me, getting going and ‘doing it’ is about focusing on ‘learning to appreciate the learning process’ and each step along the way, instead of having unrealistic expectations of my first step being ‘perfect’

Ignoring the success/failure cues (which aren’t really even valid anyway) and instead focusing on how the process of trying something new, or scary, or stretching is good for us; regardless of the specific outcome of that new thing we’ve been meaning to try today…



Keep it up girl!


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