girl-talk

roobs vs failure

April 30, 2017 Roobs Leiser

i was going to start this with the sentence ‘my biggest fear in life is failure.’ - but given that i just found myself walking home alone with 7% battery at 11pm on a saturday night in london because a girl threw up at my bus stop, i probably have to acknowledge the distinction between conscious & subconscious fears. consciously, my biggest fear in life - since my very early teens (there was no traumatic trigger, i’m just as baffled about the whole thing as the next person) - is seeing/hearing/being sick. subconsciously, in the way i live my life, the way i process all wins & losses, the way i view myself, my biggest fear is failure. and not just failing, but specifically the embarrassment of failing. of being exposed as incompetent or stupid. of being laughed at.
in some ways, the conscious & subconscious aren’t too dissimilar. both are about lack of control. both leave me vulnerable and unable to dig my fingers deep into the situation to stop it from getting away from me. and just like i can avoid getting the bus if i think someone might be sick on it, i can also avoid the crippling embarrassment of failure by avoiding every & all ventures in which i might not be unquestionably competent. unfortunately, that covers just about everything that isn’t the u.s. office trivia and stroking dogs (play to your strengths). it’s especially inconvenient if you’re trying to run, and grow, a business.
there is so much i want to do. there are so many ideas i want to share. there are so many people i want to get involved. there is so much potential that i want to seize and run far & fast with. but, when it took you six months in your last job to answer the shop phone because you were so gripped by the fear of muddling up the words & sounding stupid, it is easier said than done. when you want, so badly, to meet up with the countless amazing women you’ve connected with online - but you’re so terrified that you’ll be a disappointment to them, or you’ll embarrass yourself, or you’ll be awkward & unnerving & unlikeable - it’s no mean feat to drown out the ‘what if’ voice. and the people who say ‘regrets are worse than ‘what if’s’ have clearly never experienced lying awake at 3am as their brain replays back every single human interaction they had over the course of the day in order to analyse any possible cause for cringing shame. 
the most frustrating thing about this way of thinking is that, after having *obviously* failed at many things throughout the course of my life, i know for a fact that is the best way to learn. it is the best way to improve, and to edit, and to grow. it is the key to moving forwards, it is what allows us to make positive changes that will allow us, in turn, to perform better in future. and, armed with that knowledge, failure should not feel this fatal. the voice of doom should not be so loud. the make believe scenario of you being ridiculed that your brain creates preemptively in response to you sharing with the world something you haven’t even done yet should absolutely not appear so crushingly clearly in your mind’s eye. 
and how do we get around it? maybe this is the ultimate example of ‘fake it til you make it’. maybe we shouldn’t try to convince ourselves that failure is good, maybe we should just pretend that it doesn’t bother us like it does. maybe we should lie to ourselves purely to allow the lessons to be learned. maybe we need to just grow the hell up. no matter how zen i try to force myself to be, i know that - knowing who i am as a person - i will never experience embarrassment and think ‘that was actually ok’. it’ll never feel ok because losing control over how i present myself to the world doesn’t make me feel ok. it makes me feel upset and angry and irrationally tearful. but, the point is, i don’t have a choice. we can’t glide through life with a concrete projection of ourselves onto the world that will never be altered by external forces. like….one day you’re gonna trip up over a wonky pavement and people will make that ‘uuuoohh’ sound that they do that’s 50% amusement 50% pity and you won’t know which of those feels worse but it’ll happen anyway and your day/month/life will continue anyway and you’ll probably think of it 4 years down the line like i’m now doing about the time i fell right onto my hands & knees coming out of sainsbury’s on fenwick road in giffnock on my lunch break and i wanted to die, but i didn’t die and i’m still not dead and i’ll probably fall over again soon and my life *still* won’t end because of it. 
or maybe we just need to remember every time we see someone share an idea/piece/product/artwork that we think is better than anything our stupid useless trash brains could ever come up with, that they’ve reached the culmination of all the crumpled paper failures that made them get to this point. and also never forget that bruce wayne fell down that big hole which was super embarrassing but his da said that we fall so that we can learn to pick ourselves up and then he, like, became batman so if hollywood narratives teach us anything it’s that failure is just one montage with motivational soundtrack away from victory. duh.
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox



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