When I was 15, my mother took me to this country bar/restaurant in Rochester where Country Music Artist Keith Urban was playing, before he was famous. He was brand new to the country music scene and I had no idea who he was, and I don't remember much of the event (note: this was pre-camera phones).
The part that stands out in my memory was after the concert was over, when he was signing autographs. Everyone lined up in front of the little stage and he had his black sharpie out and was signing anything anyone handed him. I do remember him being a very nice guy because my mom asked if she could have his water bottle and if he'd sign it for her, and he did. (She later sold it on eBay.)
She also told me to bring my writing binder with me. The one filled with all of my song lyrics and poetry that I had written over the last year, and give it to him. And I did, bring it with me, that is.
I had my thick black binder in my hand and was holding onto it during the entire concert. But when it was time for us to approach him for an autograph, my mom asked me, "Are you going to give it to him?" and I'm standing there, surrounded by all these people (some of whom were not very nice, I remember there being a lot of budging in line and this one girl being really nasty to me) and I was terrified. I'm thinking "What is he going to do with it?" He wasn't going to have time to read it, and I wasn't about to just GIVE all my emo, depressing, really personal poetry/lyrics away to some guy I didn't even know and had no idea of just how famous he would end up being. So, I didn't give it to him. I panicked and just took the water bottle and said thanks and walked away.
My anxiety issues had started around then and I was in a room full of people I didn't want to be in, listening to music I didn't know and didn't really like (not a big country music fan...) and I got scared.
Did I lose out on an opportunity by doing this? If by some chance, he did read my lyrics and did think they were good enough and give them to someone he knew, or maybe he himself could have composed music for them and sang them, would I be living a very different life right now?
Or would he have given me advice and moved on? Or said, sorry kid, I can't read them right now?
My point is, I was young and scared, but I allowed that fear to take over my life and not take that chance of something happening. There is a very big chance nothing would have come of it, because I am sure a lot of people have given him stuff like that before, but then again, he was just starting out himself and maybe would have given me a chance. I don't know what would have happened. All I know is that I learned a lesson. Looking back on that day and the choice I made, I learned to never give up an opportunity purely because you're scared.
Change is scary. Taking a risk is scary. But sometimes, the risk is worth it in the end because the outcome will be so much more than you could have ever dreamed of.
About a month ago, I took a risk. I reached out to another writer I know who also runs a small publishing company and asked if they were accepting new submissions. They weren't, but she still wanted to read my story. A week later, she replied with, "I want this story."
Now, a short story I wrote back in 2009 is being published in a short story anthology. Now, I have my foot in the door. Being published, even by a small company, is STILL BEING PUBLISHED! This will get my name and my work out there and people will read it! Does this scare me? Of course it does, because I know that not everyone out there will like me or my stories ... but everything you want in life is just one step outside of your comfort zone. And I want this more than anything.
So I'm taking a leap forward and seeing where I land.