I am petrified of failure.
I thought I might be, but I did not understand the extent of my fear until I talked to my sister. She said they were discussing flaws among a group of women. Someone pointed out that she was a perfectionist – an extreme perfectionist so much so that she was building a wedge in her family. The leader responded, “what makes you so scared of failure?”
As my sister recounted the story to me, I gasped that she would use this specific example to explain the leader’s profound insight. The question echoed over and over in my head.
What makes you so scared of failure?
I was all prepared with my blog notes to discuss all the things people do not tell you about success. I know success. I live success. I breathe success. Everything I touch has been blessed for as long as I can remember. I speak blessings. I pray for blessings. I embrace blessings. Therefore, for half a second, I thought I could be an expert. In reality, I am just a regular girl desperately afraid to fail at anything. Or maybe trying not to fail at everything so I spend every waking minute perfecting processes because somewhere along the line I convinced myself that failure was not an option.
I do not sleep well. I do not focus well. I prefer summer because during summer, I have no ideals. I have nowhere to be, no one denying results. I take thousands of pictures, only a handful of which reach any form of social media…because being on the beach is perfection. It does not require any add-ons from me. The sounds of the water, the sand beneath my toes, the sun creating beautiful shades of brown. All perfection. All absolutely beautiful with or without me.
Yet, when I come home perfection relies on me. My children must be well-balanced. My students must learn. My home may not fall apart and neither may my composure.
Truth is, at times my children drive me insane, and I grow tired of being the teacher to whom they assign the tough students because I can get through to them. And I would always prefer to be home even if “home” is in complete disarray because my home has no expectations.
My children do not yet know that other moms prepare healthy afternoon snacks in cute containers pre-prepared by the week. They do not understand that eating cereal at 5PM as an afternoon snack followed by chips and dip straight from the bag with no portion control is not normal. They do not know that other mothers teach their children to make their beds every day, and they do not have to search the house high and low for the missing shoes minutes before leaving the house already behind schedule.
So, yes, I would prefer to stay here with my son, and my daughter, and my husband because I do not always have the energy to pack the bags, the wipes, the snacks, and the extra jackets/blankets just-in-case. The fact that we got out in one piece and made it to whatever destination on time is a miracle. Sometimes I do not have the energy to change my daughter out of the pajamas she changes into immediately upon walking into the door. But I am quite sure pajamas are not appropriate for any occasion to which we have been invited…
I am petrified of failure.
As a result, I stay to myself most times. I have my husband and my handful of friends. They already know I am not perfect, and they pass no judgement. I am too tired to explain the idiosyncrasies I have come to accept as ordinary.
I do not have the answer, by the way. I know you thought I would. You thought I would have some cute solutions to look failure in the face, to accept your flaws…
All I have is my own flawed perfection that helps me to escape my fear, my own versions of extraordinary masked as ordinary.
- My faith. My faith tells me that “God is within [me], [I] will not fall (Psalm 46:5).” He tells me that all I need is “faith as small as a mustard seed” to move a mountain from here to there (Matthew 17:20). He says that “all things come together for good” and “He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me” (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11). So I know that even when fear is all I have got, a mustard see of faith is all that I need.
- My beach. Every once in a while, life smiles at you and offers you its best. I enjoy every minute of it. I cherish the moments I want time to freeze. Those snapshots of perfection disguised as regular life. They ask for nothing in return. You can neither add nor take away from their beauty. They exist with or without your presence.
- My home. My place of solitude. My area of acceptance. My husband. My sister. My friends. My family. My children. My renewed purpose.
What makes me so afraid of failure?…I have no idea. All I know is how cope when my perfectionism tries to kill me.
What about you? How do you cope? What creates the extraordinary in your ordinary?
What are you afraid of?