I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who was raised with a "failure is not an option" attitude. It's pretty pervasive in our society in much of how we teach and raise our children.
But I can't think of a more damaging message for our young people to hear. If only I had learned early on that trying and failing is exactly what makes life exciting. And it's where the greatest, most valuable lessons can be learned.
I grew up believing that if I was going to do something, I had to do it well. And because I was a fast learner, I would catch on to things quite quickly.
This also meant that if I didn't, I'd just give up without even giving it a chance.
And worse, if I knew that there was probably no way for me to be completely awesome at something, then I wouldn't even try it.
Yes, the fear of not doing well, let alone failing, was so deeply ingrained in me that I passed up a lot of what could have been amazing opportunities.
I get that it's a natural human tendency to want to be good at things, and to only engage and try things that offer some level of success attached to them. No one wants to go into something knowing full well that they will fail.
But I see the difference between me and people with a "no holds barred" attitude. People who live fearlessly (not stupidly -- big difference). Who aren't afraid of what other people think and who don't care if the end result isn't fantastic or fabulous or even good.
They're willing to take that risk, to try something new and different and perhaps even scary. And I envy that deeply.
It's harder to try new things as an adult because there are bigger consequences. So while I do try to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone, I'm really focusing my energy on my kids. I want them to know it's okay to fail. It's okay to try something and not be good at it. And it's okay to do something they love whether they're good at it or not.
The difference between me and my own parents is that I know I'll be there for them in they fail. I will do my best to catch them, support them, or at least comfort them, which is something I never felt from my own parents.
I think of all the lost opportunities and chances and only want my kids to have what I didn't. I want them to be able to put their fears aside and give whatever they want a try.
How do you deal with a fear of failure?
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