Another day, another failure, another opportunity to reflect. There have been so many times now that I have figuratively banged my head against the wall in anguish over what a colossal failure I am. Just earlier this evening I threw in the towel and committed to giving up. I gave up on writing a research project proposal that I was genuinely eager to complete. I talked myself into an absolute tizzy over all the reasons why it would go wrong, why it would be a mistake, why it would cause problems for me down the line. Funnily (or perhaps not at all), I couldn't even articulate what would actually go wrong, I just felt this impending doom that something definitely would.
I sat there at my laptop, wondering why on Earth I gear myself up to achieve things that I ultimately leave behind? There is always a reason, or rather an excuse, that I can pin my motivations on. My inner cheerleader wanes and all I'm left with is an Eeyore-like voice goading me into throwing the towel in. I feel like shit. I feel like I have let my future, could-be self down.
Then it dawns on me. I am not a failure. I am worse. To fail, you need to have tried. You need to have stepped beyond what you know to be true and take a chance to do something that you're not certain you're capable of. As I write this, I can say with complete conviction that I have never done that.
All the things I have pushed myself to do have had one thing in common: The chances of me succeeding outweighed the chances of failure by a huge margin. Yes, there was a sense of fear, but it was a fear rooted in self-doubt and low self-esteem, cushioned by an understanding that it was highly unlikely something would go wrong. I realise there is a contradiction here. Why would I be afraid if I knew that logically everything would be fine? Because that is what anxiety is. You are afraid of things that you know deep down are unlikely to happen.
It is this same anxiety that has stopped me from ever truly failing. I can just about move towards tasks that realistically will bring me no harm or heartache, but as soon as that is turned on its head... well, that is indeed a whole other story, saga, nine part mini-series.
This upsets me. I have lived so long under the illusion that I have failed countless times and learned a few lessons along the way. The truth is that I have stumbled and have consciously refrained from learning the real hard lessons of life. Too afraid to commit to failure.
The depths and pitfalls of my fear of failure have come to a head. How can I say that I have truly led a life of growth or development when I always ensure that I am safe from ever truly tasting the bitter zing of falling face flat into failure?
The saying "fail forwards" never really sat well with me. I consistently find myself in positions that I had been in before and, therefore, never felt like I was moving anywhere—forwards or backwards. I always felt like I was lolling to and fro in the same position. I see why that is now. I failed at failing...
It's 1:43 AM on a Tuesday in February. Calling this a New Year's resolution would be less than apt, but it's most definitely a resolution. The ones you make when everyone you know or care about is asleep, the air is quiet, and the only voice you can hear is your own. 2019 will be the year that I commit to failing. The year that I will seek out opportunities to try things where I do not even have an inkling of how it will turn out. Then, and maybe only then, will I finally be able to gauge what it means to "fail forwards."