It’s time I take this seriously. Time I stop ignoring my problems and face them, or at least make an effort to. Doing so is so scary; I don’t quite know the exact origin of my problems with anxiety and stress, but I fear that re-visiting whatever it is will just make things worse.
I think a lot of my problems stem from past failures. I am a perfectionist, and a self-conscious one at that. My whole life I’ve done whatever it takes to be the best at all my endeavors, not because I am driven to succeed or inspired by whatever it is I’m doing, but because I am determined not to fail. Fear of failure is the driving force that has influenced almost every decision I’ve ever made in life. Sure, sometimes I’ll “take chances” and do things every once in a while that seem brave to outsiders, but deep down I’ve always known that I take the chances I take only when I know I will succeed in them. I’ll do things that look hard but are 100% attainable, and not always because I want to do them either, but because I want others to see me do them – to see me succeed. In my college admissions essays, I often wrote about how I was a “highly intrinsically-motivated” individual. I talked about how independent I was, how I always wanted to march to the beat of my own drum, how I wanted to live a full life and make mistakes because that was how you “learn.”
Sometimes my ability to bullshit scares me. Because the only thing that’s ever been “intrinsic” about my compulsions to succeed has been the fear that rises up within me when I think of how humiliated I would feel if I failed. Fear is my only driving force. It’s all I have. I cling to it because it’s the one thing that makes me seem like a successful human being. It’s what causes me to only want people to see my highlight reel and to completely ignore the outtakes. It’s what allows me to put up walls and shut people out and be the “funny girl” in the group who is unable to form intimate relationships.
Letting go of fear would mean letting go of everything I know and am. It would mean venturing into the unknown and, potentially, failing. All this isn’t to say I haven’t failed before. In fact, my past failures are probably part of the reason I find myself on this website today. My failures have hit me so hard that I still haven’t quite recuperated in almost 4 years. I still feel the sting of humiliation when somebody asks me my story. I can sense (made up or not) the thoughts of disapproval from someone when I tell them that I failed at getting into the career field I talked about making it big in for years. The pity is palpable when I talk about the terrible jobs I had to take in order to work my way up into a different field – one which I love and say I’m proud of, but now as I write this wonder if that’s really the case? Do I love my career? Am I happy with the way my life has turned out?
Even if the answer is no, my fear of failure will cause me to say a persistent “yes,” if asked. When will I be enough? How can I change my thoughts to feel as though failure is okay? There are so many things I want to do but fear I will fail at, so I don’t.