Fear of Failure


I’m sitting here at my desk listening to Milky Chance. It’s a beautiful fall day, and I have taken the day off to fill out grad school applications. My accomplishments so far? I’ve slept past noon. I’ve cried. Talked to a friend. Edited some more of a short story for another friend. Ate. Stared into space. Sat with my dad and compared versions of “Hallelujah” (Rufus Wainwright FOR LIFEEEEEE).

I’ve been waiting for this; I’ve been preparing for this and planning for this. I should be checking boxes and drafting my personal statements. Instead, I have decided that instead of three schools…only two. Or maybe just one and if I get rejected I take a year, try to find a better job and save money, and go from there. So I haven’t really decided anything.

Oh, George Ezra, why can’t you sing to me what to do with my life.

Seriously, what is wrong with me? I have talked about NOTHING but grad school for years. There are no other plans. No employer is going to care about my research. Why can’t I do this?

Because I’m scared. I’m terrified. I’m shaking in my goddamn britches. What if everything I’ve worked for is for nothing? What if I’m not good enough? What if I don’t make the cut?

The “what if’s” flood my being. They overwhelm and suffocate me. They are me. Because I fear.

Fear has such a strange, strong power. It whispers your demise. It shouts your insecurities. It constantly begs for you to hold back. “Stop,” it wails. “You can’t, you aren’t strong enough. You can’t handle the rejection.”

It has this power because the stakes are high. It has this power because we build things up to the point that failure would be devastating.

But we must push back. We must build ourselves up to survive our possible defeat. We have to find our center.

There is no conclusion to this, because I’m still trying to get there. Just know, whatever you’re trying to get through, trying to achieve—it’s just as scary for everyone else, too.