Don't Be The Guy In The Pool With A Shirt On

Published by Adam Clark on September 9, 2013

Perfectionist. Detail-oriented. Cynic. Earnest. Authentic. Real. Meaningful. Passionate. These are all things that I hide behind. They are my excuses. They are the shirts I wear when I'm in the pool.

But underneath the shirt is the real me. Fear. Self-deception. Needing to be liked. Approval whore. That’s what I don’t want anyone to see.

But some days I wake up and want to tear off the shirt and live as free as a streaker at a football game.

But there’s that fear. The fear of judgement. The fear of being thought an idiot, or worse, a loser. The fear of being discovered as someone who isn’t very interesting, doesn’t have much to offer and isn’t needed by anyone.

I tell myself I’m detail oriented and a bit of perfectionist. But it’s not true. I obsess over the details because the details are all I have. If I don’t have details or designs or mechanisms or processes to obsess over, then I’m left with actually having to do something; to ship something. And that’s the greatest fear of all.

Deep down, I’m terrified of what people will think of me and of being a failure. Seriously, terrified. Take-a-bottle-of-pills-and-jump-out-a-window-rather-than-face-it terrified.

But that is no fucking way to live. I’ve done it for 33 fucking years and I can tell you, it’s no fun. And while I’m dropping f-bombs, I might as well say it again, FUCK! (sorry mom).

I build these personas based on what I think people will like, what I think they will respect. Every time I open up Photoshop or IA Writer or sit down at the drum kit, a cloud of angst settles around me as I set out to create or write something people will find impressive. And not just impressive, but so damn good, it will be linked to thousands of times and retweeted for all eternity.

How arrogant and insane is that?

Why are these fears so crippling? Why can’t I take off the shirt and bare my man-boobs proudly to the world and not give a fuck what anyone thinks?

I have designed and redesigned blogs hundreds of times over the last 10 years, but probably written less than 50 posts. I have dozens of side projects left half-finished. I have genuinely good ideas all the time. But I don’t do any of it.

I never ship because I can’t face the potential of failure. But this is failure in itself. The only thing worse than being the fat guy in the pool, is being the fat guy in the pool with a shirt on.

But I’m not kidding anyone. People can smell fear and insecurity. And, frankly, I reek.

Living this way is exhausting. I don’t know who it is I’m trying to please. So what if I fail? So what if people think I’m a loser?

I’m pretty sure there are at least three people (my wife and two daughters) who will not think that. Why can’t that be enough?

Don’t mistake what this is. It’s not an attempt to be “real” or “authentic”. I’m not trying to help anyone or garner praise for being raw. It’s an honest baring of my soul and some of my deepest fears.

I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of missing out on the joy of creative expression. I’m tired of this soggy, wet, t-shirt that’s not really hiding anything anyway.

Sincerely,
Adam (the one with the t-shirt)
@avclark