my entire life i have been scared of failing. and i’m not just talking about failing in a major way, i am also referring to minor “failures”- the kinds of small things my friends really don’t understand what i’m getting worked up over. so if by chance you went to kindergarten with me, you might remember me crying when i forgot a letter of the alphabet during our alphabet test. and if you went elementary school with me, you probably remember me bawling my eyes out for getting my name written on the board. and in junior high, maybe you were in my math class when i was panicking over not remembering how to solve a problem on our exam, or in high school when i got all worked up in chemistry on a semi-daily basis. but don’t worry…if you didn’t know me in my ‘younger’ days, you might have went to college with me where i placed a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to never mess up. and of course i failed at this because its an unrealistic goal to never make a mistake–nor is it a good goal at that.
in your eyes you might have thought i was being dramatic, annoying, or making a big deal out of nothing. in fact, i probably was being all three… but i was also being myself. i’m not sure where the fear and panic over failure originated, but what i do know is that it is part habit and part personality, and most importantly, something i have been working on my entire life to overcome.
but when you have responded to certain stimuli in the same way for the majority of your life, it becomes difficult to find another way to handle things. and it doesn’t necessarily have to be fear. it can be any emotion really, anger, anxiety, frustration. you see, if you have always responded to difficult challenges by giving up, it becomes easier to understand why it is so hard to succeed. or if you are used to allowing yourself to get upset over small annoyances, its not so much of a surprise after you have had your eighth outburst of the day. or if you tend to always perceive things in a negative light, maybe its easier to understand why you’re constantly having “bad days.”
so anyway, it might not be that big of a surprise when i was terrified to hand in a fairly extensive report at my internship. i had to complete an assignment that i had never done before with little guidance or time–(welcome to the real world eh?) but today was meaningful because i decided that sometimes failure is as important as success. because doing something wrong only teaches your how to do it right. failing challenges us to find new answers and different ways of doing things. today was meaningful because i didn’t wait two hours before i clicked “send,” nor did i obsess over the potential grammatical errors i may have made. i decided that the the feedback (or criticism) i receive doesn’t always have to be equated with failure, but rather, should be more equivalent to learning.
in the process of continuing to decrease my anxiety-driven, worry-prone attitude/personality/existence, i have been working on creating balance: continuing to stay motivated to succeed and work towards becoming my personal best, while also changing my perspective on failure. this includes taking a deep breath. it also includes not comparing myself to others, making new mistakes, and allowing myself to struggle.
did you know that when a caterpillar is in the process of turning into a butterfly it has to fit through this teeny tiny hole for the transformation to be complete? i’ve heard that its necessary for the caterpillar to fight its way out of the cocoon to force the fluid into its wings, to allow them to fully stretch. you see, the struggle is necessary for the butterfly to survive… to be able to fly.
i think its the same for humans.
i’ve also learned that when you don’t give up, you cannot fail.