Pushing Away Fears And Slaying The Dragon

There is no question that I am a chronic overachiever and a very stubborn and determined woman. As a result of these personality traits, I have been able to accomplish every large goal I have set in front of me. However, the process of making my dreams come to fruition has, on occasion, been peppered by self-doubt and procrastination. I know that I have a definite fear of failure and of being average, both of which are traits commonly found in the fitness and bodybuilding industry, and that is part of the reason why I find the industry completely irresistible. However (and this is also quite common in the industry), I have also suffered from a fear of success, and know all too well that such a fear can be even more crippling than any other fear.

If I were to dissect my journey to an IFBB Pro Card through a filter of fear of success, I can see that although I never really wavered from chasing that goal, certain thoughts floated through my head at times which threatened to derail me from my focus. The most prominent aspect of my fear of success was the concern that I might not deserve to become a Pro. It seems strange now, especially since I have been a Pro for almost two years, but I definitely remember thinking that maybe I didn’t have what it took to be a Pro, especially when first place national finishes were stacking up for me without the final reward of IFBB Professional Status. I remember hoping and wishing that the next national contest would be “the one” that would make me a Pro, but in the back of my mind, there was always that kernel of doubt that I didn’t deserve such a reward, and that somehow, I couldn’t deliver what the IFBB expected in their Pros.

Thankfully, everything changed in April of 2013, when my mindset shifted dramatically. Instead of thinking that I wanted a Pro Card and how I wished it would happen, I decided that I ALREADY WAS A PRO and began to embody the attitude that Pros had. Interestingly enough, my attitude change also coincided with the best physique of my life. I trained like a complete machine, never once allowing myself to get rattled or distracted by anything that threatened to sabotage my belief in myself. I was no longer afraid of success. From April until July of 2013, I kept using the hashtag “alreadyPro” to keep myself on track, and it worked like a charm, because on July 6, 2013, I reached my goal and became an IFBB Pro.

In the back of my mind, I was afraid of how things would change once I reached my big goal, and of how I might change as a result of the new status. Reflecting on that now, I fully realize how ridiculous that concern was, because I am still the same person, just with four awesome letters after my name. I had a similar concern when I was in medical school and concerned about how I would change as a person when I finally became a doctor. Though I know that the advanced degree made me somewhat more reserved, I still retained the sarcastic sense of humor I always had and was still just Stacey. I am no better than anyone else because of what I have accomplished, nor has the core of who I am changed in any way. I have been given more opportunities since achieving success in the world of bodybuilding and fitness, and the climate of my daily life has shifted, but all of it has been extremely positive.
knight fighting dragon
On another note, I remember one aspect of my fear of success with the Pro Card hunt which had been a minor concern during my journey, but which became more compelling AFTER I had reached my goal. The day that I won my Pro Card was one of the most incredible days of my life, and I found myself floating on a cloud in a state of wonder, disbelief, elation and relief for a couple of weeks after that event. Then suddenly, I was struck with the realization that since I had slain the beast and finally succeeded in getting that Pro Card, I no longer had a goal to chase. The sword had to be placed in the scabbard and put away. Once that realization set in, I went into a funk for months, and my body followed suit by retaining water and exhibiting signs of metabolic damage. Instead of feeling victorious, I was depressed because I didn’t know what to chase after anymore. I was able to move on by setting new goals, and surprised myself by changing the game plan and focusing on non-contest related pursuits. This shift in goals has created a whole new set of fears and challenges, but my past successes have strengthened my belief in my abilities, and I now feel confident that I will accomplish every one of my new goals.

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