Fear is a debilitating and robust sensation. A feeling of fear can cause one to lose faith in themselves, to give up before realizing success. Inversely some can focus fear and create a galvanizing effect from it, drawing power and inspiration. Fear has been prevalent over the last year, both within myself and shared throughout communities. It has brought out the good as well as the bad in people. Fissures have formed between friends and families as we fight to find commonality and comfort.

This post is not a global reflection but a personal reflection of a fear that I likely share with many like me. A fear that stymies my ability to share my creativity and self-expression.

At heart, I’m a creative, a problem solver, a thinker, a doer. Through the eyes of a tinkerer, I look at the world, objects made of individual parts, uniquely combined to create a unique and special whole. As an engineer, this has served me well in developing software and building infrastructure and processes to support it. I like to make things. That is until I meet up with our old friend, fear.

While developing internal systems, glue code, APIs, and the like, I find very little sense of longing throughout the development cycle. When I work on something that has a visible presence to users, I begin to get anxious. A sensation I became aware of years ago while working on a consumer-facing desktop application for a “day job.” I worked tirelessly for months to implement features and UX, things were great! Then all of a sudden, launch day approached, and my world froze. Millions of thoughts around it being “really ready” flooded my head, luckily though the process of launching was out of my hands. At that point, paralyzed by fear, a product I worked on was about to be pushed out to the world. So many thoughts flooded my reality; Was it good enough. Will it work? What if ‘X’ happens… In the end, it was a solid release, generally well-received, generally stable. Most importantly, it worked! At that moment, the sensation of fear was overwhelming, yet in hindsight, I know it was unfounded.

Fast forward to today, that fear is still prevalent. The ways that it manifests have evolved and changed, partially because the projects have generally become my own. Personal side projects that I work feverishly on after work and into the night. They start strong, but as time progresses and complexity increases, I become paralyzed again. More so now, because there is no external force pushing the release, no hard dates. I get entrapped in cycles of perfection, pushing the release further and further out. I create an eternal cycle of polish and refinement, to the point of burning out and moth-balling the project.

My goal is that by sharing my experiences with the hopes that others see that they may not be alone if they experience a similar sensation. By owning my fear and forcing myself to share it, I become more aware of it. Looking forward, I commit to myself to work diligently to thwart my fear of releasing my work. I