What is one of the greatest fears that we have?
The writer H.P. Lovecraft tried to tell us that it is the fear of the unknown — whereas JFK told us that ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’
But I would also say that fear of failure is a great one too, a fear that dominates our mind and shapes our behaviour in such a way to sometimes make us peculiar and obsessive.
The problem is that as you get older, you begin to realize that it is completely possible to fail at the things you have set out to do in life; you begin to realize that your time is limited, and that you could easily miss the boat — if there is even a boat waiting for you in the harbour to begin with.
A project that you have might lose momentum. You could get sick, and not be able to finish it. You might become mentally unstable and not have the clarity of mind to make it work — even if your idea is great. You might become sour as a person, and lose your spirit, losing the meaning of why you wanted to do it in the first place.
There are also economic factors that stop you, too: your work simply may not appeal to enough people — or you might be pursuing an art form that has gone out of fashion. You might be in the wrong country, writing in the wrong language, or just too poor to give it any time.
That fear of failure — that not being able to achieve your goal for whatever reason — is a tremendous thing; and all the self-help platitudes in the world cannot make it go away. Fear of failure is often found bound up with the feeling of ‘not being good enough’.
But if an old friend of mine was here, he would counter it by saying, ‘Good enough for what?’
Which is completely true; any decent person will tell you that ‘good enough’ is relative to lots of different factors, and so not to put too much pressure on yourself, and treat yourself with kindness.
But still, all of us care about certain things in life, and have hopes that we too, might be able to do something successful with those things.
So, I don’t really know what I am trying to say, except that a fear of failure is totally normal. Part of the way to fight it off, or keep it in check, is to also keep your dreams in check: scale them up or down as you go along, and abandon the ones you have no chance of achieving. Dreaming and reality have to work together.
Of course, I am still afraid that I am going to fail; but I guess there is nothing that I can do about it; all of us are living with a fear of failure, in some form or another; and being an adult, is finding a way to accept this, the things that you fear, and not letting it get out of hand and take over your life in some strange and destructive way!
Anyway, I hope I haven’t brought down the mood too much. Here is something to cheer you up from Germany, from the depths of winter, the optimistic electronica of the Silicon Scientist.