Failure: A tale of survival

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A few things people may be afraid of are spiders, snakes, heights, airplanes, large crowds, and the boogeyman…

I’m afraid of failure.

It terrifies me. I strongly believe in the ability of the mind to control our perspectives and actions, but sometimes it doesn’t seem so easy. Sometimes we can get a little lost in our own heads. I think of my mind like a big house. There are lots and lots of rooms with different purposes, all shapes and sizes depending on what it contains, like the room of requirements from Harry Potter (Potter nerd and proud) but a whole house full of them. There are rooms I don’t like to spend much time in, like the room where I keep all of my self doubt and insecurities or the room where I keep the cataclysmic “What if’s” that seem to multiply like damn rabbits whenever I enter it. Then there is the room in the deepest, darkest most cobwebbed part of my house; the room that once you step inside you can’t find a light switch or the door you just entered from. There is no warmth, no joy, only a deep impenetrable darkness. When I enter this room I feel my stomach twist into anxious knots, I’m chilled to the bone and no amount of rubbing my arms will make the goosebumps go away. Suddenly my whole body feels ten times heavier and it aches all over. This is the kind of crippling, mind blanking, turns me into a useless human kind of fear I experience when I think I will fail.

Now rationally failure can be a very good thing, you can always learn from failures, and the more lessons you learn, the more likely you will one day succeed. I’m not saying that my fear is reasonable because it’s not. What I’m so afraid of is that I will fail again and again and again, and I will be trapped in that room forever, I’ll never feel warm again, never feel triumph or hope. And suddenly, impossibly there is even less air in the room than there was before. All I can manage is to crawl into a ball in some desperate attempt at self-preservation. A panic attack. Now, I’m stuck. I curl up in a ball on the floor of my own personal hell. Lying on the floor I somehow see a tiny sliver of light underneath where the door must be, if I slow my panicked breathing I can hear distant laughter. With the last bit of survival instinct I have I crawl towards the door, its so cold and the floor is so hard and there are so many cobwebs but I know that if I stay in this terrible, terrible room, I won’t survive.

I have only moved a few feet when I bump into something solid…the door?? Really? But the room seemed endless; I was only a foot or two from the door the entire time?! A doorknob! There’s a doorknob, this room is no place to live, and I know what’s out there. I know what it feels like to breath deeply and confidently, I turn the knob and fall out into the hall. It’s warm and there’s light and wait…I made it out of the room. The failure didn’t kill me, and I realized something. Even when I am at my very lowest, with seemingly no hope, I can still change my perspective and see that sliver of light, see the silver lining. And with that small silver lining I can change my situation. I can make the choice to not let my fear hold me captive. I can choose to act. Choose to fight through my failure and find the literal light at the end of the tunnel, okay or on the other side of the door. Yes failure is scary, but contrary to my beliefs, it won’t actually kill me.

Whatever you are afraid of, whatever is holding you back, let yourself go there, let yourself imagine the absolute worst situation possible and realize that you can survive it. Hell you can do better than that, you can learn from it and you can use it. It is a horribly sad existence to live in fear of something that cannot actually destroy you. You may just need to change your perspective. Even if that means you have to curl up in a ball on the floor at your lowest, your absolute worst, before you find that you do have the strength to make it. Do it, dare to fail, whatever it is you are afraid of it, just freaking do it. You may surprise yourself.

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