On Fear & Failure

Having finished writing this post, I don't know how I feel about it. Mostly confused, but also maybe a bit determined? To not let this fear define me. But I'm still scared stupid. Anyone else out there ever feel like this? I know I can't be the only one. And now I'm avoiding hitting publish. So! onto the post:

I had planned on celebrating my 2 year blog-a-versary last week, but I managed to catch some nasty bug (probably the flu) and spent most of my week on the couch surrounded by kleenexes and cough drops. Glamourous, I know. (I really hope you're all staying healthy and had a wonderful holiday time!)

I didn't really want this to be my first post of 2013. Well, really I didn't want to write this post. I've written and rewritten the intro for it so many times in my head and debated posting it at all. But I think I need to get it written down and out of my head. Then it can live here and not clutter my thoughts.

So here it goes.

I am terrified of failure.

There. It doesn't seem like such a big thing written there in that small sentence, but when it invades almost every aspect of your life, it certainly doesn't seem small.

We all have fears. Most are little, but some are big. Failure is my big one.

I don't know how it started, or when it got so bad, but I think its been there most of my life. I remember in grade 7, we had a science fair. We had to come up with an idea and run experiments to test our hypothesis. I remember one girl tested mood rings, and someone else tested different detergents, but me? I tested water evaporation. And I didn't even write my hypothesis until after I'd done the experiment. Seriously. Apparently I was scared of failure even at 11 or 12.

In highschool I remember not wanting to answer questions in class in case I got the answer wrong. But I remember one time in math class I was feeling somewhat confident, so I put my hand up to volunteer an answer from the day before's homework. Out of the whole page of questions I finished the night before, the one I volunteered to answer was the one I got wrong. I think that was in grade 9. And I still remember that exact moment.

My favourite subjects were always math and science. Partly because I was good at them, and partly because there were definitive right-or-wrong answers. So I could be sure to not get the answers wrong. History to some extent is like that too, but english and philosophy and all those other classes (that I can't think of because I never took them)? Too iffy. Too many opinions, not enough absolute facts.

I guess along with failure, I was afraid of disappointment. I was always the 'good child'. The one who did well in school, who followed the rules, who dreaded getting in trouble, who stayed inside the box. Because inside the box was safe.

But I'm feeling a need to get out of the box where I've spent so much of my life. And what lies outside the box? On one side, excellence. But on the other side, failure. And that fear of failure has been what's kept me inside the box for so long. I've never excelled at anything I've done because to strive for excellence is also to risk failure. And I just don't know what I would do if failure happened.

I mean, obviously, the world would not end. I would carry on and learn and grow I'm sure. But it's one thing to say that and it's another to truly believe it deep down. I can say it and believe it on some level, but I don't believe it deep down.

So what do I believe deep down? That I would be a disappointment. I would no longer be 'the good girl' who does what she's told and follows instructions and stays in line. I would have screwed up.

And it's not even about perfection. Because I'm not a perfectionist. It's like I'm a 'good-enough-er'. When something is 'good enough' I stop. Because to push it farther, closer to perfection, is also to risk screwing it up. And see? We're back to fearing failure.

I don't think I could have put the words to this fear as a kid, but I think it's always been there. I don't know why or how. I don't remember a defining moment that shaped the fear or some huge trauma that  brought it on. But I would really rather it be gone.

This has been a rambly post. And way more personal than the stuff I normally post. But I want 2013 to be the year when I'm not afraid. I want to follow a few dreams that have been lurking around for a while. I've even joined a team to help me follow these dreams (here's the linkup to my fellow dreamers).

But I'm still afraid of failure. Probably always will be. So I guess my challenge is to figure out how to make it not matter as much. How to make this fear smaller. And they say to overcome a fear you have to face it head-on. So maybe this will be a year of failures as well as dreams? Goodness, this should be fun.

I'm going to be writing about following my dreams this year. I'm doing this with the intention of keeping myself accountable as well as documenting it for my future self.

I don't know how it will go, but this is week one.
And this is what I'm feeling.

I don't want to hit publish on this. Or even read it through again. But I guess every journey needs a first step. This is mine? Or maybe this is the step before the first step? I don't even know.