No matter how much fear of failure has stopped me in the past of doing what I wanted to do, these days I regard it as a very loyal companion. It is there for me all the time just to give me a sign when I am about to do something that is beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone. It is my alarm system when it thinks I am about to do something I have not done before, that might therefore hold the risk of failure and even worse danger to my wellbeing.
It is an overreacting companion, I can tell you. It regards a lot of things as being dangerous to my wellbeing and is extremely fond of the emergency break. It also likes to keep me safe rather than happy and it thinks that safety is found in the things I have always done. It has little wisdom, but screams loudly.
I can tell you now, this companion has been very, very prominent as a tour guide in my life when I was younger. What a great tour guide this is….Just when I was about to see something exciting and new, it pulled on the emergency breaks : “Noooo, can’t go there, might be risky, might be terribly dangerous, might cause trouble….let’s just walk the same circle again and again. We might get dizzy, but at least it is safe”
Later I realised that this alarm system is actually quite a good sign that I am about to do something that I love, which is evolve and grow. It is a terribly good indicator that I am about to do something that is exactly what I should be doing, because without the risk of failing, I would be doing the same thing time and time again, I would not learn anything new, I would not become the best version of me….ever.
It wants to keep me confined in what I know and has marked this as safe. It definitely does not take into account the bliss that comes from failing a few times and then succeeding. The bliss that comes from doing the work, sometimes the hard work, putting in the hours to learn, to challenge myself, to stumble and fall and then get up again. Do you know that exhilarating feeling of something succeeding that has failed numerous times before? That feeling of doing something in spite of the fear and making something happen? This fear is a fear that I am willing to deal with, because I am not willing to live without growing and evolving.
Fear of failure kicks in when curiosity finds something new for me to try. I find curiosity to be a better tour guide than fear of failure, but fear of failure is most definitely the best signaling post that the borderline of the comfort zone is coming near. Outside of it there is the possibility of growth and failure. I find growth to be massively more interesting than boredom and so I take this fear as a sign that I am about to do something that holds the promise of growth.
I don’t want to sit watching a promise of growth from a distance, I don’t want to be its secret admirer…to live is to grow….to expand. I will be about to do something I have not done before, fear of failure immediately kicks in and says: “Maybe you should learn a bit more about that, you are not good enough to even try that yet. You will never be good enough actually….” This is fear of failure playing the not-so-nice friend. It has the intention of keeping me safely confined within the borders of the comfort zone, but it does not hold into account that true happiness from achieving something that you have not been able to do before by far outweighs being (what it considers to be) safe.
My entire life I have been the kind of person who does things in spite of people telling me I can't or even because people tell me I can't. I don't accept limitations put upon me by others. Most of the time don’t even listen to myself, but fear of failure had a faithful listener in me. It knows where my weak spots are and knows exactly what will stop me in my tracks.
Fear of failure still comes in and tells me : “you might just be an imposter, perhaps you really have no talents whatsoever” It does so mostly at times that I am just about to do something that will bring me the most joy. I now take this negative voice as a sign that I am on the right track. It is the clearest sign I know that I am about to do something that holds this promise of growth, of doing something more authentic.
It does not like authenticity much. It much rather does things like everyone else. It will much rather go for the popular thing than the authentic thing. It whispers in my ear: “Don’t stand out, you’ll not be accepted, you’ll be ignored, you’ll be nothing or less….” And then I know for sure that this thing that I am considering, is worth doing.
It is my loyal companion, it signals when things get exciting, we are friends for that reason. I know it wants to keep me safe, but I don’t agree with its interpretation of what is safe. I disagree about the direction that it wants to send me in (backwards), I trust my judgement about the direction.
Authenticity is what leads me. It means that the work I do reflects who I am. It means that I will not do things that do not feel right even though they might make me much more popular. I was made this way for a reason and this reason is that I should be exactly who I am and use my skills and talents in a good way in order for me to grow and to help others to do the same. If I was meant to be like someone else, I would have been someone else.
I am the introvert who loves teaching. I am the fearful artist who is stubborn enough to not trust her fears. I will trust authenticity instead…who I am….where I want to be. This has been my tour guide in the past few years and life has certainly become more exciting since I started to question the truth in the words that fear whispered or screamed out to me.
It is an alarm system that has gone a bit bonkers, which really does not have any intelligence or powers to look into the future, it can only ever be an over-reacting friend who likes everything to stay the same. Let fear stay in that comfort zone whilst you extend its boundaries, whilst you follow the call of authenticity and inquisitiveness. There is an entire world out there.
If you like my work and want to try your hand at forest photography, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic of Forest Photography. This way you can help support my work in this year in which my income and that of so many other artists has evaporated.