Why are we so afraid of failure?
Since I’ve started my journey with theatre I can remember that I was always afraid to fail. To be bad at what I do. To be a weak performer. Never to be able to achieve great things. I never trusted my skills and by doing so I never allowed myself to believe that I was, in fact, good at what I did. Funny how by being insecure and uncertain of ourselves we block the smooth running of creativity through our systems and simultaneously become stuck, dull and uncreative.
I remember the times when I didn’t take up something simply because the idea of failing scared me so much that I didn’t even want to try. I once lied to my PE teachers that I had diarrhoea before a race (I used to be good at running) as I was afraid of not achieving the result I wanted. How twisted is that? I was only 16 or 17, and I know that similar situations happened before and after that. Why is the fear so implemented in our psyche that we’d rather lose a great opportunity to learn something about ourselves? Perhaps that time I wouldn’t have won the run. Perhaps it would’ve been embarrassing to face people who believed I was one of the good ones afterwards. Perhaps. Although isn’t it worse that I didn’t take the risk of failing and embracing it? I decided to back out without even trying. We do that every single day. At least most of us. People, who don’t yet realise that they’re wasting this beautiful opportunity of taking a risk, sometimes falling, picking yourself up and standing up richer in the new knowledge and experience. I must admit it took me a long time to acknowledge the fact that one cannot exist without failure.
Well, to be fair who wants to share with others that two years after graduating they still couldn’t find a ‘proper’ job? Or, that they actually don’t want to have anything to do with art anymore? Who wants to share how much struggle they put up with on a daily basis? The smiley pictures that you’ve just posted of you and your boyfriend, you don’t really want the rest of the world to know that it’s only a matter of time till it’s all going to fall apart. But hey! Let’s keep up the appearances! No one knows how many extra hours you did in your shitty little job to afford the exotic holidays you’ve just come back from. People only see and judge one side of the coin. The one you decide to show them.
And failure? The fear of it will stop you doing things you love, give you nightmares and eventually make you ill. Fear is the necessary component of creation. It just needs to be kept at bay, assured that it matters too.
Samuel Beckett once said, ‘Fail. Fail again. Fail better’.
Don’t be afraid to let yourself fail. Perhaps that fall/fail will be the best thing to push your life forward? The key to open even more doors… or just the necessary ones.
Photo: Alex Stoddard Photography