Sharing my work

The fear, the desperation and the inspiration

Arpana Khalkho
4 min readJun 9, 2021
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

I am not a confident person. I always doubt myself. I often think I am not good enough. And double guess at my every decision.

People who know me might scoff at this. I come across as a confident, affirmative and no-nonsense person who knows what she is talking about. What they don’t know is that I have perfected the skill of hiding my insecurities. I have more than 30 years of practice.

I am amazed at how I am surviving in a profession that requires me to show and explain my design every day and listen to others critiquing it (I am a UX designer if you are wondering). At one of the design review sessions in my initial days as a designer, I remember anxiously requesting the reviewer to not include another team member — “He will just laugh and make fun of me”.

So, even though I want to start something of my own, putting my work out there scares me.

The two sides of me

It is like I have these two conflicting sides. One side of me wants to talk to people, get feedback, learn and grow. The other side gets jumpy with the slightest thought of showing the work. And it is pretty obvious that I can’t do what one side of me wants without doing what the other side hates.

On deeper introspection, I found that I am comfortable sharing my work with acquaintances and strangers on the internet. I am open to their ideas and hold discussions openly. I easily take criticism and look at them as opportunities to grow.

When it comes to family and friends, things get uneasy. I am embarrassed with my work, dread the criticism and tend to avoid any conversation regarding it. I do not want to display my vulnerability.

Fear of failure

I think I have a difficult time being open about my work with people who know me because they will be around to see how I fare at the end. It is not just a fear of failing but a fear of failing before family and friends. I don’t want them to think of me as a loser.

So far this fear has done just one thing — stopped me from pursuing anything long enough to know whether I am failing or succeeding.

But I know that I cannot aspire to be successful without stepping out of this weird mind zone.

Finding the courage

For someone who actively avoids showing vulnerability, this story is the exact opposite of what I am comfortable with. So why am I doing it? And how did I have the courage to share this?

It is part inspiration, part desperation with a little bit of experience mixed in.

Let’s start with the easiest one.

Past Experience

When I learnt to ride a scooter, the freedom exhilarated me. Buying my own was somewhat of a stepping stone into adulthood for me. Although I loved riding around on it, accident scenes would play out at the back of my mind every time I was out on the road. With every turn I took, every vehicle I passed— I would imagine graphic details of skidding and falling. This went on for a couple of years.

One day, while out running errands, I just blurted out everything to my husband who is riding as a pillion. To my surprise, the imaginary accident reels went away immediately. It has been more than 4 years now, they no longer haunt me. I now enjoy each ride to the fullest without any anxiety.

This is what I hope to do by putting this story out in public — melt the chains of embarrassment and fear that hold me back.


I am fed up wanting so much more in life but not getting anywhere because I refuse to leave my comfort zone. With all my effort dedicated to not failing, I have managed to neither be a failure nor a success.

I know I can achieve everything I dream of once I break out of this mind-prison. I have the skills, the grit and the motivation to make it happen. It is almost like a now or never battle in my head.

And this is me powering through.


I recently discovered Ali Abdaal’s Youtube channel. As I was gobbling down his videos, I came across one where he talks about making millions by writing online and his initial fears around starting a blog. He pulled out the book ‘Share Your Work’ by Austin Kleon and started describing how it helped him overcome his fears. I paused the video, hopped over to Amazon and bought the book.

Reading through it a second time now.

Not to say that it has changed my world but here I am at 7:30 on a Sunday morning typing away for the past couple of hours.

Here are some quotes from the book that touched a chord.

The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.

The people who get what they’re after are very often the ones who just stick around long enough.

Summing it up

More than anything else, this story is meant to get me through to the other side. I hope that this time around my desperation together with the inspiration keep me going.

Keep me going long enough.

Long enough to find out how I fare at the end.



Arpana Khalkho

UX Designer, Master of Information (UX), UofT 2023. 10+ years in the IT industry. Designing seamless solutions for the right problems