We Need To Talk About Life Fright

We Need To Talk About Life Fright

Mar 07
We Need To Talk About Life Fright

Life Fright sounds funny when you say it in an Australian accent, that’s why I made it up. But Life Fright actually refers to a real condition, known in internet parlance as Achievemephobia.


So what is Life Fright?

According to my experience, Life Fright means a conscious desire for success that is undermined by a subconscious drive to self-sabotage.

Life Fright is dark, it is pernicious and it comes from a voice within that says
“You don’t deserve success because YOU ARE A VERY BAD PERSON.”

For almost my entire life I have shared my headspace with a nasty saboteur who I call Joan. Joan wears a horrible bonnet and a button down shirt. She has bony hands and bulging eyes and a tight little mouth that says “NO!” And quite frankly I am sick to death of her.

Oh, things are not all bad. Some days the ideas flow and I piss my pants laughing at my own jokes, but other days I find myself picking lint out of the tumble dryer or hoovering pencil shavings out of my draws because Joan has convinced me that this is far more important than wasting any more time on something that might actually lead somewhere. That’s ‘draws’ by the way and not drawers. If you think that I sharpen pencils into my knickers then you’ve got me all wrong coz I don’t even wear knickers (much to Joan’s horror).

Joan’s mission is to ensure that every potential harvest fails. She will watch with glee as seeds are planted with gusto, even allowed to bud, and then – without reason or warning – left to wither. My desktop is bulging with them – blog ideas, character monologues, TV scripts, novels, even a musical – and they ‘cheep’ at me like starving chicks, their beaks wide open, eagerly awaiting the worm of my attention.

For years I have neglected these poor chicks without understanding why, until, after much soul searching over Christmas when I endured 28 nights of insomnia, I realized that what I fear most is not failure, but success.

You see, I am the youngest of five girls and, apparently, fear of success mostly affects younger children who believe they cannot succeed until their older siblings have succeeded. The youngest literally has to ‘wait in line’ or else they s/he is breaking the sibling code. Success may bring money, fame, and respect but there are unexpected costs – envy, notoriety and being shunned – which bind the succeeder in guilt and shame.

But since the new year, something wonderful has happened. I have banished Joan from her pride of place on the edge of my desk where she would sit bolt upright, ankles and arms folded, ready to drive me from keyboard to lint tray. Now she must content herself with a hard-backed chair in the corner of the room. Occasionally I catch her glowering at me, but I just blow her a raspberry and go right on writing.

And look. I’ve just finished another blog. Go me!

Rose Wadham


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