For the longest time, I have been afraid of failure.
I wasn’t cognizant of this until November, when I realized how much of a hold fear had on me. I handed in what I knew was an awful essay. I think a normal person would have resolved to “do better next time” and moved on, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I kept imagining my T.A. reading the essay and reviling me for being stupid; I couldn’t resist berating myself for being so lazy with my work; I was slavishly considering whether I should rewrite the darn thing and suffer a late penalty.
On top of all this, for the entire week leading up to the deadline, I was filled with dread, knowing that I was bound to do an awful job. I was constantly asking other people if I could finish it, looking for assurances.
All the while I was thinking, why is this such a big deal?
It was a big deal because the stakes were high. Somewhere along the line, I started believing the lie that who I am is what I accomplish. This fear was the product of my “fake self” fighting for its survival. For it to live, I needed to avoid failure at all costs so that the lie its existence was founded upon could be preserved.
But it happened anyways. I failed.
I handed in an essay that was totally sub-standard, and so I braced myself for all the unpleasant consequences that were sure to follow. After all, my incompetence was now confirmed. This was it! It was only a matter of time before I would start failing in every other course, my parents would disown me, and the principal of the school would crown me with a dunce cap and kick me out of Glendon.
Obviously none of these things happened. Failure had quite a few pleasant effects, specifically, it dispelled the irrational beliefs that I had been carrying like burdens.
My “fake self” suffered a fatal blow and I realized that it was not me.
I met failure, and now failure is becoming a friend.
How do you think about failure? Do you hate it or love it? What have you learned from failure in the past?