“Come on, Jon. You’re scaring me. Please sit down.” She had been pleading, bargaining, and coaxing me for nearly ten minutes now. But I knew better. If I moved from this spot without saying the words, then life would have to go on the same way it had been, and I couldn’t bear that anymore. Maybe I could just stand here forever. If I stayed put, maybe I could stop time from moving forward. It seemed tempting, even though I knew the whole time it wasn’t a realistic option.
“Jon,” she edged toward me, “It’s okay.” She was getting closer, “I’m here,” and closer, “It’s alright.” She was within arm’s reach. I feared what I knew was coming next. Then, in an instant, my beautiful fiance and partner in crime for life opened up her arms and held me. That’s when it happened. No, I didn’t move. No, I didn’t speak. I wept.
For someone who has a viral video about the invalidity of fear, I still get scared sometimes...lots of times. Every time I press “tweet” or “publish” or “upload”, I get scared. Every time I get on a flight to go speak at a youth group of college, I get scared. Every time I put fingers to keys, or pen to paper, I get scared. Over time, I have learned to overcome most of these fears on an almost daily basis, but not all of them.
Ever since The Anima Series started two years ago, I have dreamt of bringing our work on tour around the country. And for two years, I have had plenty of excuses for not doing it. At the beginning, we didn’t have a big enough audience. We needed time to build our brand. Then I got cast in a Broadway show, and all my nights were basically taken. I just didn’t have the time. Then I was saving up money for an engagement ring, and then a wedding. Touring would be too big of a financial risk. Clearly, we were too small, too busy, and too poor to go on this tour.
The truth is though, we weren’t too small, too busy, or too poor. The only thing I was, was too scared.
What if I announced a tour, and nobody cared?
What if nobody showed up?
Or worse yet, what if they did show up, and they hated the show?
There was a certain level of comfort I enjoy by using the internet as a buffer between me and other people’s opinions about my art. Going on tour meant that buffer would be taken away, my armor would be removed. I would be heading into the arena completely naked and open for whatever praise or punishment may or may not come my way. That fear crippled me.
“But Jon,” you say, “isn’t that exactly what you write about on your blog every day? Isn’t this what you’ve been trying to encourage us to do for the past two years?”
This post is not about me begging you for money. This post is a confession, a confession of hypocrisy. I have spent two years writing and speaking about the importance of creating art, taking risks, and challenging convention, while the whole time, I was hiding. I have been avoiding the call that God has placed in my heart out of fear. I couldn’t find the courage to even admit that touring was something I wanted to do, not until my fiance gave it to me.
Back to the story we began with: After a good ten minutes of very unattractive and snotty sobbing, I finally said the words, “I’m scared.” Erin and I spent the next two hours talking about not only my fears, but hers as well. All the fear and insecurity that I was feeling about the tour, turns out she was feeling many of the same things about her new calligraphy business. Turns out, I wasn’t alone.
We all live in fear of what Amanda Palmer calls, The Fraud Police. We all fear that our desire to create art is not a legitimate option for support ourselves and contributing to society. We all fear that someone is going to expose us by saying, “See, you really have no idea what you’re doing. And even if you did, you’re not very good at it anyway.” The Fraud Police. Perhaps you’re familiar with their work.
I have allowed The Fraud Police to reign supreme in my life for two years. I’ve allowed them to make camp at the edge of town and block my way from pursuing what has really been on my heart, the tour. This realization has left me with two things to say.
First, I am sorry. I believe I have the best readers and fans in the world and I try my best to not only write encouraging things, but to live them as well. I apologize that I have been such a bad example, a bad leader, and a bad friend. I hope you can forgive me.
Second, and this is to The Fraud Police, I’m done with you.
The time has come to put fear aside and to hit the road. The tour is happening, whether people love it, hate it, or don’t give a rip. If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ll consider helping support me through a donation. But even if nobody does, Erin and I will still be a car this October, driving around the country. I hope we get to meet you on our way, and I hope you have a story for us about how you said, “No,” to The Fraud Police in your own life.
Keep being awesome!