F for Fear: fighting fear of failure

Fear motivated me to write this article. Last month, I decided to weigh in on a controversial issue, then chickened out before I could publish the post. I had too many doubts. Was I mature enough to handle this topic? Did I get the nuances right? Did I have counterarguments for every possible counterargument to my arguments?

People who weigh in on controversial topics can legitimately be in danger. I’ve seen how a slight misstep in wording or intention could attract a horde of angry, even violent commenters. I’ve underestimated the bravery of all the writers who spoke brutal truths online.

But I still felt cowardly for censoring myself, because I felt forces at work bigger than trolls on the internet. The age-old imposter syndrome (feeling like a fraud in my field) and fear of failing at creative projects have always been my biggest problems.

This fear of embarrassment also spills into my interaction with the world. And since everyone has social anxiety in one form or the other, we can all agree that it isn’t productive.

So what would I do if I weren’t afraid?

For one, I would have walked up to Nathan Adrian when I saw him in Berkeley and asked for a selfie like a shameless fan instead of admiring him from afar. In fact, I would boldly approach anyone I wanted to talk to.

I’d spill my guts and compile them into a book, like many other memoir authors. I would write candidly about politics and volatile social issues. I’d tweet more thoughts and post more on Facebook. And I will share this rubbish post on Facebook with a funny caption when I publish it.

I’d stop complaining that I’m a useless lump. I would continue martial arts and dancing. I would sign up for a marathon and go running all the time.

I’d estimate my monetary value and stick to it. I wouldn’t be afraid to be a businesswoman.

I’d try new things like cooking whole meals, wearing different clothes, or skateboarding. If I look silly while trying these new things, I’d laugh instead of apologizing.

It seems like I’m afraid to do even the simplest things, but I know I’m not alone in my fears. Society has a way of tearing people apart for being too adventurous. But what I love about society is that I’m surrounded by supportive people. So I will conquer my fear of failure by writing, sharing, and driving on (along with cheesy motivational one-liners). Wish me luck!

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” -George Addair

This post is part of the Alphabet Project, where I write a post for each letter of the alphabet. It was inspired by Ash Huang’s Alphabet Meditations.

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