My fear of failure is really my fear of what you will think of me if I fail, and through life this fear has controlled many of the decisions I have made, or more importantly the decisions I didn’t make. The gambles I might have taken if I wasn’t scared of what you thought.
Who knows where my life would have ended up?
We term these decisions regrets, which is a great way of ignoring the process.
Regret is the result!
At some point in my life, I must have experienced failure and was possibly ridiculed for it, or maybe I seen someone else fail and watched them get ridiculed. Seeing this humiliation cripple a person is like wielding an ultimate power.
I can hurt them if they fail, or they can hurt me if I fail. I will be humiliated, and my ego trashed. I don’t recall if this is what happened, but through reflection I understand how powerful this weapon has been over my mind.
I have accomplished many great things from sailing a tall ship, to writing a book, to surfing. In fact if you spent an hour talking to me you couldn’t imagine this fear exists. But it does, and as I’ve become older, I’m aware most of the achievements I’ve had are not so much drowned out by the regrets, but if there was a trophy cabinet for both. I don’t spend my days staring at the trophy cabinet full of glories.
I’m not haunted either, it’s more a realization of the paths I avoided for fear of what others would think of me if I failed.
My earliest memory of this is the school play!
I don’t recall ever wanting to act as such, but I remember a desire to be in the school play, to perform in front of people, but I was too cool for that. At least that’s what I told myself. In truth I was frightened I would be crap and would get a bit part, and all kids no one thought were cool could now wield this imaginary fear over me, a fear which was real in my head.
Can you imagine that? Because I was scared, I might not be good enough, I didn’t try something my heart desired. My heart ached to be in the school play, but I had convinced myself I wasn’t this type of kid.
I got into trouble, I fucked around, and I wasn’t about to expose myself.
It’s easy to believe the identity we give ourselves, and it’s easy to believe others are interested in who we are. In a strange way it’s true.
We have expectations of everyone. From the people in our inner circle to celebrities and sports stars. We expect them to be a certain and way and we expect them to perform in a certain way.
It makes sense then that we surround ourselves with the same rules, eventually these rules become barriers, which eventually become walls, and given time to mature. You have a magnificent impenetrable fortress on top of a hill for the world to see.
And you’re inside pretending to be the person you want to be. The screaming voices unleashed running around the fortress while your image of yourself remains on guard keeping both worlds separate.
The truth is I’ll never know what might have happened, I might have hated it. I do know I never tried, not because of a fear of failure, but because what others might have thought of me failing.