It’s not fear of failure

A thought suddenly occurred to me today as I tried to figure out why I was sitting around wasting time. I always thought that the reason I’m afraid to make the effort sometimes is fear of failure, but that’s not it at all. I’ve attempted some things in my time that have failed, and I’m quite happy to admit they’re a failure and move on – just like another way not to make a lightbulb, it’s just another learning point on the road of life.

What I am afraid of is ridicule. Of failing spectacularly and being laughed at for it, or for thinking I’m doing well and then having others laughing at my pathetic efforts.

I’ve been thinking back to an episode at school, where I’d made an effort for once to present my work properly, only to have the teacher ridicule my efforts in front of the whole class and encourage them to laugh too. I would never join in team games with the youth club, because I was afraid not only that I’d muck up but that I’d be laughed at. I think this could be a reason I avoid writing groups as well.

This is also the reason why I’ll sit and watch someone else doing something rather than take over, unless I’m sure they can’t do it. However much I think I can do a good job of it, I’d rather not take the risk unless it’s necessary.

Just because I don’t do it, don’t assume I can’t. In secondary school we had swimming lessons in an outside pool. It was freezing cold, and it would always take me a large part of the lesson to get into the water. As a result, I would be one of those at the shallow end, and I’m sure my teacher thought I couldn’t swim very well. In the end the thought consumed me until the point I threw a major paddy because I would miss the last swimming lesson of the year because of a piano lesson. To this day I don’t know how they knew or why they helped, but someone offered to swap with me, and I went to that swimming lesson, went to the deep end and got right in and was swimming and diving with the top swimmers. I don’t remember the teacher’s response at all, but I had proved that I could do it and I felt pretty satisfied over it.

This is where this business of “everything comes down to you and how you handle it, not down to other people” becomes dangerous to me. Because I usually interpret that as the other person always being right unless they’re proved wrong, and I can take a lot of convincing that the other person is in the wrong before I’ll stop blaming myself and start thinking maybe I just have to let things go. When you’re permanently convinced that if anything goes wrong it must be your fault, it’s hard to want to stick your neck out.

Now I’m about to start heading off into my own business, I need to get over this and be prepared to put myself out there. I need to be convinced myself that it’s something I can do well (most of the time I am), and I need to be prepared to convince other people as well. And before I can get down to that properly I have six weeks of work, followed a couple of weeks later by a week’s booked holiday, which makes it very hard to do anything until they’re out of the way.

I’d like to use the next few months to get back to studying, as well, to finish off a qualification I’m halfway through and which would look good on my personal description for my business. Trouble is, that would take a lot of money, which I really don’t have to spare right now. So I’ve bought a couple of lottery tickets, and will be looking for other ways to magic up two and a half grand over the next couple of months. Not seriously, because it’s not essential – if it were, I would be able to find the money somehow – but if such an exact lump of money does miraculously fall into my hands I’ll know how fate wants me to use it, put it that way 😉

So there’s plenty to be done, I just need to figure out my way into it. Which means that if I’m tempted to sit doing nothing I’ll get a notebook or keyboard out instead and start writing until I’ve figured out what to tackle next. I think I’ll make that my shiny sink, something to focus on to help organise my mind. (Shiny sink is a flylady reference: focusing down on one task and doing it thoroughly, rather than panicking on everything around you and getting nowhere).

I also need to remember that if people do laugh and mock at me failing then that’s them being out of order, not me, because the best type of people will be along side me helping me, or cheering me on. Only the nasty ones will take any kind of satisfaction in my failure.



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