I Can’t Put my Foot to the Pedal: Exploring the Fear of Beginning Something

Eva Cruz Pena, Creative Process

25 May 2017

I grew up fascinated by the creative process of sewing, loving how one piece of limp lifeless fabric became alive, even with personality, once scissors, needle and thread came into the picture. 

But the creative process also petrified me. Thoughts like: “I can’t do this,  I’m too young, I am not skilled enough… What if I mess it up? What if I break the machine?  What if I ruin the fabric? What if I sew my finger?” echoed loud and clear in my mind every time I attempted to put my foot to the pedal. Time after time, I stared at the wrought iron pedal for what seemed like hours only to pull away from the machine and the creative process. I became a spectator who longed to bring fabric to life.

Does this sound familiar?  

Photograph by Cristian Dieguez via Unsplash

In the previous post, we explored what stood in the gap —the space between creator and creation. This space is commonly inhabited by feelings of frustration, fear, and shame.  Today, I want to delve into the feeling of fear, particularly, the fear of beginning something.

One of the most challenging stages in the creative process is the beginning. As creators, we’re gifted with the power to create; however, we can’t always predict the outcome of our creation. This uncertainty gives space to the rising of fear, which, if left unchecked, will pull us back into the role of eternal spectators.  When embraced, fear can actually propel us towards stepping into the creator aspect of our nature.


“Time after time, I stared at the wrought iron pedal for what seemed like hours only to pull away from the machine and the creative process. I became a spectator who longed to bring fabric to life.”

The Fear that Pulls Back

In her book Playing Big (2014), Tara Mohr, shares that, in the Hebrew Bible, the word pachad (one of two words for fear) is used to describe the fear of projected or imagined things.  Pachad is the over-reactive, irrational fear that stems from worries about what could happen —about the worst-case scenarios we imagine (p.65). I believe, every time we’re about to begin something, pachad becomes a loud powerful voice. It is up to us, however, to determine what this voice is calling us to do.  

When struggling with fear, these three questions prove to be helpful:

  • What’s underneath the fear? -Understanding the root cause of our fear creates a sense of ownership, which can empower us to take charge over the voice that’s keeping us from the creative process.
  • What is the worst that can happen?- Follow this path and discover that most of the fears are irrational and not life-altering. Ruining fabric and breaking the sewing machine are nothing compared to shattering the creative aspect of our nature.
  • What’s the cost of caving to fear?- Answering this question usually puts matters into perspective. The price of not expressing our creativity is cost-prohibitive.  Increased stress and anxiety, along with feelings of depression and meaninglessness are associated with our inability to self-express.

The Fear that Propels

The same fear that can pull us back, can propel us to take the creator’s seat. What’s needed to shift from one to the other is an adjustment in perspective. Instead of seeing fear as an enemy, I invite us to welcome it as an opportunity guide. Fear has the potential to propel us into new opportunities that can expand our capacity to create.

Explore:  What opportunities can following my fear provide for me?

In an episode of Marie Tv, life coach Marie Forleo recalled a time in her life where she chose to follow her fear of dancing instead of running away from it. Armed with her mantra: Action Cures Fear, Marie kept following her fear until she went on to choreograph for MTV and travel the world as a Nike Elite Athlete.

Following my Fear

Eventually, I put my foot to the pedal and began sewing. It’s been almost two decades since that day and I’ve created dozens of pieces. Following my fear gave me the opportunity to bring to life many yards of fabrics. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t let fear pull me back for too long before I used it to propel me into the creator’s seat.

More recently, following my fear resulted in the opportunity to write for SewSewDef Magazine.  I sat in the spectator seat for two weeks before I chose to follow my fear and offered my idea for the column. Had I allowed fear to pull me back, I would still be wondering if putting myself ‘out there’ as a writer was a good idea.  

Explore:  Have you ever followed your fear?  And if so, how has it surprised you?

Journeying Together

I invite you to a shift in perspective. As you consider embarking on the creative process, if fear shows up, consider allowing yourself the opportunity to be propelled into bringing something to life. 


Courageous Sharing

I’d love to read your comments.  If you’re feeling courageous, please answer these two questions:

Have you ever followed your fear? 

And if so, how has it surprised you?


Thank you for your time!  Much love,

Eva Glamaris

*This post was originally written for my column in Sew Sew Def Magazine.

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