The Wall: Failure is a part of life…

I think most of us have a fear of failure. I know that as a girl who got seriously used to being top of the class, I never liked to do anything I knew I’d struggle with.

I’ve discovered on reflection though, that key to facing my fears of failure, is to surround myself with people who I know will stick with me on the journey to catch me if I fall.

When I decided to return to high school for a year and apply to university a year early I did so with the knowledge that I had a super supportive boyfriend who was going to help me study, and friends that were going to drag me back to school on the days where I’d walked out.

When I went to Morocco, I was terrified of people getting travel sick on the planes or on the 12 hour bus ride from Marrakech to Zagora. I’d never done a school trip before because of my emetophobia. But I knew that 3 of my best friends were coming to, and we’d be in it together (and none of them get travel sick). Friends held my hand take off and landing (not from a fear of flying, I just know that tends to be when people are most likely to get sick). They hid me and turned me around and walked with me in the opposite direction when one of our teachers got really ill during our 12 hour bus journey. And, I in turn helped people through homesickness and lack of clothing and panic attacks from riding camels.

I sadly went to university and chose a degree I knew I’d find pretty easy. Why? Fear of failure. When I changed across to the medical school it was terrifying. I cried pretty much weekly trying to make sense of statistics. I was struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome too, so often couldn’t get to lectures. I was so thankful for a friend in the CU who was awesome at maths and a patient teacher who explained stats and equations to me in very very simple ways.

When I came to the end of my undergraduate degree, I felt a very strong call from God to apply to study medicine. A few things terrified me. 1. Having to study chemistry 2. Dealing with my emetophobia 3. 5 more years of university. I didn’t get in. I wonder now if actually it was God trying to help me deal with my fear of failure. I found myself not that upset, because I went into a job in Community Education soon after and I’d wanted to do that anyway!

It’s ok to be afraid, I think. It’s when you let it stop you living that it becomes a problem. Yes. I was afraid of failing. There are a few things I regret not doing – one of them is studying abroad, which I didn’t do for fear of losing friends or not making friends when I got there. But I look back on these other decisions and I’m thankful that even though I was afraid – I still did it.

I went back to school. I went to Morocco. I went to Sweden and worked as a dance teacher for a week. I passed my exams first time and got into university. I went to university and lived in halls despite being only 17. I asked my friend if I could go to her church. I trusted the voice I heard was God when I got baptised, when I changed degree and when I moved back to Edinburgh. I went to Australia. I went to South Africa.

I would have missed out on all of that if I listened to my fear of failing.

Is there anything you really want to do but aren’t doing because you’re afraid you’ll fail at it?

4 thoughts on “The Wall: Failure is a part of life…

  1. Previously, yes. That’s why I didn’t get my Masters till the grand old age of 30. I’m currently working on a PhD, which is pretty terrifying but that’s part of the fun!! What scares me these days is cooking for other people… So I avoid it at all costs. I am hopeless in the kitchen and don’t want to inflict my failures on others ;-)

  2. What a great quote. Like most people I guess, I have always been drawn to things that I’m naturally good at, which is made me so happy when I loved dodgeball so much that I kept playing even though I wasn’t good. Even though it was just Tuesday nights at the YMCA it felt like progress. I’m glad you’re pushing yourself through your fear!

  3. @Sinead – I do avoid sewing, knitting and ironing because I’m hopeless at that. But at least I tried, right?! ;)

    @Ally – sometimes yes. sometimes no. Sometimes fear still gets to me and I miss out.

  4. Good post La, and great to see the contents of the wall again! I think I’m only just starting to realise how powerful fear is. Paralyzing, in fact! I think I’ve always been pretty fearless, or at least have wanted to do whatever it is enough to push me through. Now it’s a different matter and I find myself literally sitting for hours gee-ing myself up to do just do that thing I know I must do. And sometimes it’s not just failure you’re afraid of, it’s getting hurt, hurting someone else, your reaction to failure if it does come. I don’t really have any answers but I’m determined to push through so perhaps I’ll have some to share one day!

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