The fear of failure

I don’t know about you but my life has been dogged by fear of failure. I think it started in P7 when we moved to Edinburgh and my parents for reasons best known to them, sent me to a private school. Knowing that your parents are forking out thousands of pounds to pay for your education does tend to encourage you to try and pass your exams. And I still recall the shame of getting 39% in First Year Physics. At university I was terrified of failing exams. Having chosen two subjects I was hopeless at added to the pressure. And every job I’ve ever had (and I’m now in double figures) has been dominated by the thought that I’m missing the mark and failing to do the job properly.

My lack of confidence, social skills and self-awareness makes other things a struggle too. I know why people struggle to relate to introverts but it works both ways let me assure you. One of the great things about getting older is that you come to terms with these things. You know which battles to fight, what your limitations are and the fear of failure reduces.

Take 2014 for example. My one goal was to run 5k in under 20 minutes. For various reasons it hasn’t happened and it won’t happen. But I have come to terms with that and accepted that. I’m not at the point of admitting it may never happen but that is the next stage!

When I worked in a bookshop we sold a lot of a little card called the Serenity Prayer. It reads : “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” I still need that wisdom though!


3 thoughts on “The fear of failure

  1. I do admire your honesty, David, and I think more people than we realise have the same fear of failure. It’s how you deal with it that matters. I think the word that cropped up most in my school reports was ‘conscientious’, and I had the same fears about exams. What I try to tell myself is that it’s purely an attitude of mind; and if you can change it, you can change the outcome (it is SO true!) Don’t give up on your goals for one minute!

    • Thanks Jo. That’s very helpful. I read a good quote this morning : “One of the first steps to accomplishing great things in your life is to cease dwelling on the negative things in your past.” I really should try that! Thanks for the encouragement.

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