I have a half dozen blog post ideas that I keep trying to write but just seem just a tiny bit out of reach at the moment. I’m tired. I’m revising for a couple of tests that I have when I get back to university in two weeks. I just want to be able to remember the relatively easy things I have to learn. I understand most of what I am doing fairly well, there is just so much of it that it is overwhelming and I can’t concentrate for the nagging feeling picking at the back of my mind that is stressing me out.
I am terrified that I am going to fail.
I am not, but that is always how I feel. Fear of failure isn’t my motivation to work but it is something that keeps me going. An easy way to look at it is thus; I want to be a novelist/journalist, yet I am doing a maths course. Why am I doing a maths course if my desired career path is in literature? Because maths, according to society, gets you the best jobs and makes you universally respected as someone smart. To put it another way, maths gives me the best chance at succeeding the most and the least chance of “failure” in other people’s eyes.
It’s endemic in our culture, not just how maths and science subjects are deemed more valuable than others, but how we gauge ourselves by our “success,” in the eyes of others and, as a result, we are all at least a little scared of making mistakes.
Clearly this can be traced right back to your education, and, to be honest, back to the crib. There is always a “right way” to do things and doing things wrong or inefficiently will see you being lambasted by others who know better. I’ll use school as an example, and, because I have the most experience with it, I’ll also use maths.
There are a number of people who profess to be bad at maths. The truth is that I don’t think they are bad at maths, but they only believe that they are. I think that what has actually happened to them is that they’ve gotten to a point in learning where they have made a mistake or a few, and the problem set out before them seemed impossible. However, instead of believing that mistakes are par for the course for everyone, they think that the fault lies with them and that they are just bad at maths.
Everyone has their niche; something they’re good at, but that doesn’t mean that they’re bad at everything else. The fear of failing at something new just stops them from trying it out. Going into the New Year I want everyone to accept my failings. I want to meet the challenges I face head on and, instead of getting stressed about it, revel in the up-and-down roller coaster that I am on at the moment. I want to let go of this fear that follows me like my shadow and take the failures for what they are, not what I perceive them, and myself, to be.