This Is Who We Are: On The Fear Of Failure
Often in modern conversation young people like you and I are pressured to outdo ourselves; we are told that to succeed we need the best grades to get into the best colleges that will lead us into the most respectable careers so we can afford the best house in the best neighborhood fit for the best spouse and best children and so on… It seems to me as if we don’t have any control over our own destiny! In actuality, I've learned that it is OK for us to take our lives by the horns, even if it means feeling lost and afraid.
I am a young, 19 year old woman and a sophomore in college. I own a small business and work as a freelance writer. I draw, cook, sing, make music (badly), and even get all A’s as of recently! (Very recently). Even so, with a world of excitement ahead of me, I have never felt more crushingly useless and powerless in all my life. These past few months have really stepped on my chest and knocked the wind out of my lungs because I made a big, fat, terrifying change.
You see, I have worked multiple minimum wage jobs since I was 15, and I recently (not to mention abruptly) left a great job to pursue my writing career amongst other things. You would think that this decision would liberate me, but in all honesty it just scared me! I have so much free time now to do honest work—to try to and forge something great out of my loose parts—yet at the same time this newfound freedom has glued my shoes to the floor and riddled me with anxiety. Will I lose my independence? Will I disappoint my friends and family? Will I fail?
The uncertainty is what really kills me. I have always known what is coming next—what to expect. It’s not like me to throw caution to the wind, but that is exactly why this fear is so productive. I have to learn to roll with the punches and do what’s best for myself instead of finding comfort in the rut that has cradled me thus far.
It may be that my anxiety is coming from the fear of judgement from my peers. I always think to myself: “They must think that I am slacking and losing all my money... or that I will end up failing, or not trying hard enough to ever succeed in the first place.” Maybe it’s because I don’t trust myself. Maybe I feel that my talents aren't worthy of success, or that my life choices are misguided and misinformed. I don’t know what it is that causes this much confusion, and I may never know. All I know for certain is that the person who made the decision to quit my job is the person that I strive to be.
I have always wanted to be the one who would put themselves on the line; who is not be afraid to show their true colors despite any inevitable judgement or shame. I want to make myself proud, and stand firmly for what I believe. For example, I have always wanted to be a musician, and not just the kind that fools around in their bedroom singing only when the doors and windows are sealed tightly shut. While dreaming of that is nice and swell, I've never actually had the guts to try! I want to roam the world, not hindered by countless worries and inhibitions. I want to travel to distant countries without hesitation and breathe in all the life that flourishes around me. But, I also want to be smart and wise. I don’t want to lose myself, lose my money, lose my life or worse. I’m afraid of making the wrong decisions, and I think that is OK too. All of this worry is OK—It’s all we know how to do sometimes.
But, while you can never fully squash worry, action is the best solution. Taking that steep first step towards happiness has been the most illuminating change in my sheltered reality. At 19 I already felt trapped in the monotony of simple, non-challenging work. I felt like my life was mapped out for me and that I had no choice but stay on my weary path. When I was forced to leave my job I was glowing for days! Sure, I was nervous and depressed, but also so truly elated and hopeful. I can’t tell you how fast I’ve been adapting and changing and pining for more. I haven’t felt this good in years—ever, maybe. That one courageous step outside of my norm has given me hope that I can be the person I want to be despite all obstacles and self-inflicted anxieties. That one step has taken me yards ahead of where I would be otherwise, and even though I am so far from the finish line I can already taste victory. I am worthy enough to become the person I want to be, and I have chosen to never let my innumerable fears and uncertainties stop me from doing just that.
It’s the craziest thing; before I met Andrew I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was, let alone that I would be one. His no-holds-barred attitude and religiously diligent mentality have kept me strictly off the straight-and-narrow, and have thrown me head first into creativity and movement. I want to dive into the darkness of uncertainty—not alone—but still shaking and afraid. And God dammit, if I don’t succeed then I will die trying. I hope the same for everyone who reads this blog. I hope the same for everyone, period!
I have never had confidence in myself, but after traveling, learning, and ultimately failing I have come to appreciate my fears in order to conquer them. You are all nomads like us—people who want to see the world through different lenses, timelines, and cultures—and your personal journeys will teach you more about adaptation and adventure than a cliche blog post ever could! So I truly hope that you will also experience something so challenging that it will both terrify and unshackle you.
Above all other things in this lengthy rant, I just wanted to prove that happiness and success are completely subjective. Perfection is not what makes art beautiful—the rough edges, sloppy curves, contrasting colors, wrinkled skin, and irreparable mistakes are what make art so profound. (This is where I confirm that I am the “life mirrors art” type of unqualified philosopher.) I’m sorry that my quarter-life crisis has morphed into a strong-headed soliloquy, but I’m glad that this feeling is not only mine to feel, and that it has the power bring us together on this never-ending road of uncertainty.
Thank you for listening to a more personal rant today. I really enjoyed writing this, so let us know in the comments below if you're interested in more content like this!