Daily Prompt: Fear Factor
People are afraid of all kinds of things: spiders, the dark, or being enclosed in small spaces. Tell us about your greatest fear — rational or irrational.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us COURAGE.
I am afraid of success. There, it’s out. All my life I’ve been running away from it — the bogeyman of Achievement. Failure? Pooh, nothing to it. But success?! That’s a very scary creature, which could tie me up, inject me with paralytic poison and eat me alive.
Failure’s fine. You storm in, grab it by the balls, get knocked flat on your back and have a bit of a laugh afterwards — well, maybe a shaky snigger. But success scares me so much it’s been easy to keep my distance. Believe me, success is a white hot number that should be tiptoed around to avoid being scalded by the steam, burnt raw by the toxic fumes, or losing your eyesight in the glare.
Not that I’ve ever looked success in the eye myself. Far too risky. The closest I’ve got was a slight singe of the fingertips that shot my anxiety barometer into the ether. I couldn’t type for weeks afterwards. Plus people avoided me … from fear of infection? (One friend has never forgiven me to this day.)
So there’s nothing irrational about my fear of success. If you’re still in doubt, just look at all the lives that have been ruined by an excess of achievement: Caesar, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon … I could list a few film stars too, but don’t let’s go there (I was at school with one who’s not a particularly good example). I understand that she’s known as the bitch-goddess. I’m talking about Success, not the fairy queen from my drama class (who, in her mature years, has now morphed into the wicked witch). Oops! See how the mere mention of that rarefied atmosphere loosens the bowels of civility? I’m normally the very pink of politeness. (And you should see what success can do to morality.)
OK, here I go, taking all my courage in both hands. Let’s imagine that I’ve been infected by some terrible, life-changing virus of success. How would that affect me?
(1) For one thing — I could never show my face in polite society again, because success is the one unpardonable sin against humanity.
(2) I’d have to attend celebrity cocktail parties, wearing uncomfortable clothes, makeup and (heaven forbid) High Heels. And I’d have to read some of those scary news magazines I subscribe to, so that I could make Proper Conversation.
(3) No one would ever tell me any gossip ever again. I’d BE the gossip.
(4) I would be expected to REPEAT the performance that earned me the success. The pressure would be on.
(5) I could never be sure if people liked me for my homespun self or just wanted to breathe in the aroma of my toasty roasty success.
(6) I might be tempted to have a face lift to please the press. And anyone who’s watched a reality show knows what happens to people who have face lifts.
(7) I would have to stand up for my principles. No more going to ground to lick my wounds. It follows that I’d have to decide what my principles are. And give interviews. And go to meetings.
(8) I would have to employ brokers and personal trainers, and Staff. (On the upside, someone else would answer the phone.)
(9) I would never be alone again.
(10) Someone else would write my blog for me. Perhaps they’d even decide my likes and follows for me too. Aaaaaarghh!!!
Benjamin Franklin summed it up nicely: “Success has ruin’d many a man.” No matter. I will be fighting it off on the beaches. Bring on the spider!