Don’t let fear of failure hold you back

By fear of failure001

Failure is an integral part of success. As contradictory as that sounds, it makes perfect sense.

My primary school had a motto: ‘nobody is good at everything, but everyone is good at something’: what it meant is that in order to be the best you can be, you need to find what it is you’re good at and focus on that thing. Some things you may spend hours working on, but find you lack a certain affinity for, whereas others may come far more naturally, even with relatively little practice.

Adolescence is the perfect time to hone in on these areas that you have a knack for, and start focussing on them. As Dos Equis’ ‘the most interesting man in the world’ once said, “find out what it is in life that you don’t do well… and then don’t do that thing.”

Finding out what you’re good at and not good at requires a lot of trials and tests; auditions, competitions, projects, you name it. Even socialising- you eventually realise who your friends are and who you don’t ‘click’ with so well. For every one successful thing you do, you will undoubtedly have several failures, and that is not because you’re a failure, but just simply because you are working out which direction is best to go in the future, and failure is just part of the process.

My point? My point could be that variety is the best strategy, to start with: find out where your strengths are early on, then dedicate the rest of your life to just those things. Keep your options open for as long as you can, then settle, because that’s the best way of doing things.

…Except that’s a bit boring, though, isn’t it? Yeah, it is, that’s what everyone does. My actual point is very different. My actual point is that of fear. Or more specifically, fear of rejection. Chances are if you don’t fancy doing something, it’s because of a fear that it will go wrong. For example, if I told you that if you were to ask out girl/boy X, that they would 100% say yes, would still be afraid of asking them out? No, of course you wouldn’t. It’s the fear of rejection that’s stopping you from taking that leap. But this is never going to happen- in real life you’re always going to have to weigh up the odds, take chances, look back on your previous success rates in certain areas etc etc. If you fail a few times, it’s not a reflection on you, it’s just stats.

But if you go for things, take lots of chances and get used to the inevitable rejections that will happen along the way, it’s actually incredibly useful, because getting used to rejection is the biggest key to success.

Some people may think of this as backwards, and say that acclimatisation to failure will only hinder your future chances of success by getting you in the wrong mindset, but they’re dead wrong. Get used to rejection, and you’ve forever lost that element of fear, the thing that’s stopping you from attempting that thing – whatever it is – in the first place. It’s like when Batman cast aside his rope and was able to leap out of that massive underground prison in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. The rope was his backup in case his jump failed; the physical representation of his fear of failure. When he let that go, he was able to make the jump.

Admittedly the analogy falls down after that point, because if he had failed that time around he would have plunged to certain death. Chances are if you ask out a girl/audition for a play/try out for a job, and you fail, the repercussions will only be that you have to go back to square one. Not death.

So the moral of this story is this: go out and try lots of things, and gain lots of new skills, and get rejected lots in the process. It’s not the end of the world and it’s not a depressing thing; it’s just probability. Don’t get put off by it and always keep your successes in mind along the way, to bolster your spirits. No one in the world, not even Beyoncé, would get everything right first time, or indeed any time. But get used to the inevitable rejection you will face along the path and you have set yourself up for the best kind of success – a kind where cautiousness and fear are thrown aside and you can do pretty much whatever you want.

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