synthwave style, a woman bravely summiting a mountain peak

Fear of Failure

I used to have a strong need to be perfect. And I knew I wasn’t perfect. So, instead of trying, putting in effort, and seeing what I was capable of, I avoided doing things. My fear of failure was keeping me from living my life to its fullest. Let me tell you, this is not a healthy or happy way to live your life.

In college, I was struggling with some classes, notably Engineering Statistics. This might actually be the turning point of when I started actively avoiding things where I might not be excellent.

Instead of getting a tutor, asking for help, or spending extra time studying, I stopped going to class. It was too late to drop the class, and rather than try and possibly fail, I decided I would choose to fail. See, I didn’t fail that class because I’m not smart enough, or good enough. I failed because I made a choice not to go. Somehow, I had convinced myself this was better.

I had already done this with one class, but that was an art class, an elective, and easily made up for with another class. If I wanted to graduate with a B.S. degree in Computer Science, I absolutely had to pass this Statistics class. In choosing to give up, because let’s be honest, that’s really what happened here, I was choosing to give up on my major. I was in my third year, so changing my major would delay my graduation.

As it turns out, I found a major I could switch to that required almost all the same classes that I had already taken and passed for Comp Sci. And didn’t require Engineering Statistics. Instead, I would take Business Statistics over the summer. The difference here is Eng. Stats is mostly calculus, and Business Stats is mostly applied statistics. Here, I not only excelled, I had the highest grade in the class. I used this as justification that I’d made the right decision.

In the end, this did all work out work for me. But what if I had put in some effort, gotten a tutor, and passed that Eng. Stats class? How would my life be different? Would it be better? Worse? I’ll never know.

Years later, I read a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. This was where I learned that there’s a name for my behavior. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. I believed I would fail because I innately suck at calculus. With a growth mindset, I would have believed that with effort and hard work, I might be able to learn calculus and pass the class.

Is failing scary? Yes, it most definitely is. Is it the end of the world? In most cases, no. While being perfect and never failing might seem ideal, this is not how you achieve greatness. Greatness takes effort, dedication, and hard work.

I am not exactly sure when I conquered my fear of failure. Actually, if I’m being honest, I didn’t conquer this fear. I learned to live with it, and I learned that it’s ok to be afraid, something things are scary, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing.

I can do hard things.

Today’s #Bloganuary prompt: What fear have you conquered?

PS. Writing this reminded me of Dear Me, this isn’t what life is like, which I wrote during #Bloganuary 2021.

PPS. Today’s art is synthwave style: a woman bravely summiting a mountain peak.

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