Conquering the Fear of Failure

A student's journey of resilience and redemption
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Created by bap

Published on Jul 11, 2023
podium on a stage

Read this and see if you can relate: you came across a certain activity, you delved deeper to learn more about it, and it progressively sparked your interest, into a brighter and bigger flame. You gave it a whirl and it might've ended with you rage-quitting, or people laughing at you - or the opposite - a deadbeat audience looking at you with complete silence, which was enough for you to never EVER try the activity again, due to the fear of failure.

Could you relate? This specific fear may just be the biggest barrier to happiness in not only mine but perhaps billions of others' lives. That means you're not alone, but it also goes to show just how dominant and widespread this issue is. You find yourself trying less and less, be it an existing activity such as studying, or something you've never tried before, like swimming or dancing. 

To help you understand this better, I'd like to give you a personal experience on my mind, which has to do with debating. Almost a year ago, I got into the school's debating society, where I had friends and a coach who welcomed me with open arms. I gave speeches growing up, so I didn't see how this would be any different; I was comfortable with trying debates out. Our coach set a practice round of parliamentary debating, a 3 vs 3 format, and I was on the roster of the opposition. I was pretty excited to try it out, and I had very competent teammates who had written out my entire argument for me, leaving me without even a speck of doubt. I spent the night in relaxation, playing the piano, completely unfazed by the fact that I had a debate tomorrow. 

The next morning, I show up to the debate and splat. I couldn't read off the page properly, I couldn't answer the questions directed at me, and I was muttering and nervous-sweating, so much that I quite literally walked off to find a place to cry. I was devastated; I had embarrassed myself in front of my friends due to my arrogance, the new coach saw me as a crybaby, and I could never debate again. I went home in a blue mood, unable to see myself winning or doing anything at all in any field whatsoever; it was time to bury the hatchet that was debating forever; until I convinced myself to try one more time.

About half a year ago, I entered a Model United Nations, better known as a MUN, to find redemption for my mess at the practice. I went in with high spirits, and on day 1, I seemed to be doing well; my friend was doing it alongside me, I spoke a good amount of times, and I seemed to be leading the committee, which was ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council). Day 2 was a bit worse, and the final day was a lot worse, I lost my confidence, and my friend ended up winning an award, while I was left to clap and cheer, hiding my insecurities and jealousy: "That award should've been mine, I earned it, I was one of the best, what does one day decide, I was better than him". These pathetic thoughts lingered over me, and I lost all the confidence I had gained. What took me so long to realize was the fact that due to my fear of failure, I didn't give it my best, I gave it an unwilling and pathetic try, not my full effort, and that is what I received in return. I skipped all the competitions after that.

Fast forward to today, we've reached the final debating competition of high school. As of this moment, I contemplate whether I should do it or not; the friend I had done the previous MUN with is no longer my friend, rather they see me as an adversary, I have no other support going in, and my hopes are low, and to be perfectly honest, I'm scared. I'm scared I won't give it my best shot again so that I can feel like I can always do better, and if I lose, it was because I didn't "try hard enough", even though I really wanted it. But that is me no longer.

I will give it my best shot, I will try my hardest, I will prepare myself, and I will openly admit for the first time: I WANT to win, I'm GOING to try to win. And if I do so, if I give it my all, I may just overcome one of mankind's largest hurdles, which is the fear of failure. If you have an issue similar to mine, I hope with all my heart that you too, can overcome it. 


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