Most people are afraid of success to some degree, if not only for themselves, but for those around them. Whether they realize it or not, they’re rooting for others to fail.
The people who do the most criticizing, taunting, judging, and trolling are the ones who are the most terrified. They’re usually the ones who have done the least and have tried the least. And their way of dealing with it is trying to bring you down with them.
It’s time that you stopped listening to the people who know the least, but yell the loudest.
Life is hard enough as it is. You’re unsure about yourself to begin with, having to navigate a job and friends and being an adult and paying your bills and everything in between. You are in a strange stage in your life and you often feel like you have no clue what you’re doing. Like there’s no solid ground to stand on right now, and very few things that you can say you’re certain about.
So on top of all the things you’re already worried about, why add trolls to the list? Why bother with their opinions? Have they done something worthwhile with their lives? Have they mentored you or taught you something? Probably not.
Trolls can be anyone, anywhere. They’re not limited to the internet. They can be friends, enemies, co-workers, even family members. And a lot of the time, they’re disguised as someone else – as someone who “just wants the best for you” or someone who “doesn’t want to see you get hurt.” There’s another way to say this: they don’t believe in you. They don’t think you can do it. They don’t want you to do it. They want you to sit back and play it safe, with them. They don’t want you getting up and doing things and leaving them in the dust.
It’s not like you’re the only one that is scared. Every person who’s ever done anything worthwhile has been scared at some point. But they did it anyways, because they were more focused on accomplishing their dream than they were on what other people might think of them if they failed.
What if Oprah had believed that she wasn’t talented enough to have her own talk show one day? What if J.K. Rowling had listened to the people that told her that she would never publish a book? What if Hilary Duff had decided that collaborating on a Disney-produced Christmas song with Lil’ Bow Wow in 2002 was a bad idea? One of those three examples was a joke, but I won’t be clarifying anything further.
The point is, you’re going to be scared your entire life. You’re going to be uncomfortable. That’s how it should be. If you reach a point where you’re completely comfortable and nothing scares you ever again, it means you’ve given up. Life should be about putting yourself out there and pushing yourself to limits that you didn’t think were possible.
This is not to say that you should always walk around being petrified and uncertain. It just means that if you don’t open yourself up to the potential of failure, you’re never going to get anywhere. You’re never going to grow.
For a long time, I was terrified of publishing my writing. Because writing is where trolls flourish. They can hide from behind a computer screen and make judgments about what you have to say, without ever having produced anything themselves. It’s terrifying to write your thoughts down and then lay them out, without defense, for the world to read and pick apart. But it also makes you feel the blood in your veins again.
Putting yourself out there makes you feel awake in a way that hiding from the world never could. Plus, if I hadn’t decided to start sharing my writing, I would have never received an email from my Grandmom that said “Good job on the article you wrote for the internet.” That’s a gem of a Grandma-sentence right there, and it was worth all the trolls in the world.
Each minute that you spend questioning yourself, the trolls are winning. The longer you’re afraid to try, the stronger they get. You’re never going to be able to completely shut them out, but you can keep them at bay enough to start trying.
And as long as you are trying, the trolls will lose.