The Consequences of Starting

I have all of these ideas in my head.

Things I want to do. Try. Actually, they’re more than just ideas. Ideas are worth fuckall. I have shit I actually want to get done. Shit that inspires me and I know I can totally DO if I would just get said shit out of my head and into the universe.

But I’m afraid to start. There. I said it. I’m afraid to start the thing. Maybe that’s surprising for you to read coming from me — the one who advocates hitting the Fuck It button and just doing the damn thing already. The one who’s ever-so-comfortable telling clients to get out of their comfort zones because nothing awesome ever happened there.

But I go through life with a metric ass ton of fear as of late — and a lot of it has to do with starting things.

I’m afraid to start ALL THE THINGS because starting has consequences.

Accountability, for one. If I pressed play on these impulses I have, I’ve given birth to obligation.

Obligation to nurture. If I push this thing out of my brain and into the world, I can’t just leave it crying on the sidewalk. It needs care. To suckle at the teat of my soul. It needs my heart and mind and my time — jesus. My time, as if I have any to give even though we all know we make time for what’s important. If I start this thing, I can’t tell it that I’m too busy to help it grow into everything it can be. I have to take care of it to the point of launch, the point where it’s self-sustaining enough to turn over to others and find out if it has legs strong enough to walk, much less run.

And then, there’s another consequence: outcome.

If I actually do these things in my head, there’s going to be an outcome. While all these impulses are in my head, they’re safe. There’s nothing except the scenarios my imagination has conjured up over two dirty martinis and the cigarette I wish I could smoke but can’t bring myself to actually light.

If I start, something and then take care of it to the point where it has legs and I let it run for itself…

It could explode from the starting gate and leap like a gazelle over hurdle number one…and catch the toe of the left shoe on the top edge of the hurdle, sending it face-down on the track in front of millions of viewers. Embarrassment. Total mortification. Ruin.

And yeah, I know it could clear the hurdle and win the gold.

But there are consequences to success, too. I could realize that I’m just an Idea Person and don’t want to be married to this thing I’ve launched. Then, I’d have to find a new impulse to keep me busy and happy and then the thing I’ve created could turn into total shit in someone else’s hands. Or, I could find myself wrapped up in keeping this success a success and then come the internet comments about my tits and how I can’t write and stupid fucking woman and this thing is a giant piece of shit and she’s fat and just because I launched something I’m fair game for insults and judgement and every shitty comment about my life and choices ever and maybe I’m just not that strong.

And then there’s the consequence of never having having started. Where I’m stuck, as ZeFrank says, in the place between zero and one feeling like I feel every day. Feeling as if I’m on the verge and waiting for permission. As if I’m waiting for the phone to ring with The Thing and finding out the damn thing has been on silent all day and I’ve missed 9 calls and no one’s left a voicemail.

Feeling like I do, right now, writing this after not having written in what seems like a very long time.

Feeling as if I did it. And I didn’t know I was doing it. Starting something, that is. Pressing play. The biggest consequence that comes with starting something is the regret of never having started it in the first place.

When you can’t start dating because you’re afraid of having your heart broken.

When you can’t start writing because you’re afraid it’s just going to be a piece of shit before you’ve written word one.

When you can’t start leaving because you’re more afraid of the uncertainty of leaving than you are of the unhappiness in your status quo.

When you can’t start loving because you’re afraid of letting someone see the parts of yourself you think are unlovable.

When you can’t start creating because the voices who hate what you haven’t even made are louder than the ones telling you to take a swing and see what happens.

Because life is messy and if I start something, I have to say that I’m okay with the messy consequences of my messy ideas-turned-impulses and not always having the answers or knowing how it’s all going to turn out and THAT is one huge fucking mess and there’s no housekeeper for who can get that creative stain out of my soul’s carpet.

But if I’m brave enough to start, I just might realize that I fell face first into an unexpected consequence — one far more rewarding than the track against my face in front of a million people.

I just might find that a consequence of having started is connecting with one heart in this world who was also afraid to start something. And together, for no matter how long, we can find the courage to start the next thing — long after this thing has decided whether it’ll walk, run, or fall on its face.


10 replies
  1. Shakepeare56
    Shakepeare56 says:

    Erika, I am the queen of not starting things that I know would be successful and am not sure why. Sometimes, in the case of writing, painting or creating something I am afraid of messing it up so the pages stay blank, the drawing and painting tools stay put up and the project elements are still in the garage (or destroyed in the flood my house suffered back in April). It is hard to not worry about what others will say if we do fail but why do we give them that power anyway? 

    Also, the trolls who body shame you on social media – I wonder what they look like? If they don’t have the nerve to post photos of themselves detailing their “perfection” why should you give a fuck-all about what they say about you? 

    Take back your power my dear. I am.

  2. DebBeast
    DebBeast says:

    You just wrote my autobiography.  I can only imagine how many others can relate too….. thanks for sharing your wit and wisdom with those of us who aren’t quite as well in touch with ourselves, but get a little closer after reading your writings.  Keep doing what you do…. all of it.  🙂

  3. AudreyGroeschel
    AudreyGroeschel says:

    Just wow. It all resonated and here I was thinking I was going, not just starting but moving. Sigh. Mindset shift on the way. Thanks I needed that.

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  5. ChrisFarrow
    ChrisFarrow says:

    Holy crap!    I read this article and it felt like you were living in my head. I am always torturing myself internally about all the great things that might have been.  A million ‘ideas’ that never get acted on.  Fear of starting something is all too real, and I felt like nobody else could relate.   Looking at the comments, apparently there are more than a few of us with bottled up potential.

    Time to start the next thing.

    Erika, I nominate you to be the patron saint of No Fucks Given.

    Thank you.

  6. ALSpaulding
    ALSpaulding says:

    I was just mulling over that this afternoon. I’m the King of pushing my clients to take action with their ideas and mold it along the way. Me? I find myself hesitant at times. To the point where I have to force myself to not allow it to become detrimental.
    Thanks for sharing your honesty Erika. It’s truly refreshing.

  7. XSmith
    XSmith says:

    oh god the writing one, definitely that!  I have had a novel (or 5) bouncing round my head and have most of the bloody thing written on my phone but can I start that first sentence? fuck no! of course I can’t, because of all those old voices in my head telling me how much I suck/how crap it’ll be.


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