I am afraid of failure.
Part of this comes from being raised by two people who continually sabotaged themselves.
Part of this comes from a religion that demanded we “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect” and then viewed every sign of humanness as depravity and sin. God was allowed to remain perfect since us humans took the blame for everything that went wrong.
Because I am so afraid to fail (which means be less than perfect) I am afraid to try.
My artwork is stale and rigid. While I know my best pieces come while I’m just having fun, like doing caricatures in church or math class, I feel like I must get my proportions mathematically exact or I lose. I am afraid to play on paper because the paper is wasted if I don’t produce a masterpiece. So I have good doodles and few finished paintings.
I had this idea that other people were awesome, but I was a wretched worm. If only I could run the fastest, or be the best, then other kids would want me to play with them! (Note: it does not work this way in real life.)
One time in elementary school we were running races. When I saw that I was going to come in 4th instead of 1st, I stopped running and finished dead last. For some reason, I thought this would be less humiliating. After that I stuck to long distance running where I could win by sheer stubbornness instead of talent. I still wasn’t picked first for teams. Or even 10th.
My biggest struggle has been finding “god’s will”. That mythical elusive path that would ensure the salvation of myself and the entire world, were I to be successful at it.
My focus of finding god’s will rested in my career path. My calling. And I was terrified of making the wrong choice or failing in the right one. Paralyzed, actually.
I was afraid of ending up in a job that paid less than minimum wage (like my parents) and yet I didn’t want to make too much money out of loyalty to them as well.
I asked for advice from the elders and my parents. The advice I got from them was horrible.
“Be a hairstylist.” (I have no talent or interest in hair.)
“Don’t forget to get married and have kids while you are young.” Well this isn’t necessarily bad. But not helpful to a single girl trying to decide what to study.
I should have listened to the advice of the older women in my church. “Don’t make any choices that will trap you.”
I am still afraid of failure.
Part of me was relieved when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. At least I knew what to do for the next few years without having to make any decisions, try anything or … fail! (Little did I know about mommy-guilt.)
Part of me wants to hide behind raising kids. I have a part-time job that I enjoy and interests I could pursue. I love painting portraits. I enjoy writing. I love public speaking. It would be so easy to stay at home and forget the hassle of child care and scheduling.
I wouldn’t risk failing, but to me that would be giving up.
I have it in my head to be a professor some day. Researching, learning, and giving lectures sounds ideal! I also want to have practical skills that would let me impact people on a personal level. (No, nursing is not appealing.)
But I am terrified. What if I spend so much money on trying to find a career and then fail? What if I make the wrong choice and don’t like it? What if I can’t be a decent mother and wife and go back to school? What if I can’t even make it into a program?
At least I don’t have ‘god’s will’ to worry me. But I still worry. :p