Lessons Learned Part 1: free to fail


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.
Right? …right?
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?

4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned Part 1: free to fail

  1. HOUSE RULES.1.Failure sucks big time.2. It is very difficult to make failure your friend.3. The false sense of self-worth that comes from being #1 all the time is great.4. Perpetual success is endearing to the ego. 5. Perpertual success removes from relationships. 6. The modesty in the "take it as it comes" approach to life is necessary when we experience really bad setbacks.

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