lowbrowculture

collects stories and ideas from John Kelly

Fear of failure

This weekend, I’m doing something foolish. I’m taking part in the Hell and Back. It’s a 10k race up and down the Little Sugarloaf, with a few obstacles thrown in for good measure. There’s a lot to be scared of. Never mind the cold, I’ve also got to haul my fat ass over a 7 foot wall, and deliberately subject myself to an electric shock. And then there’s the very real possibility that I will injure myself, badly.

But the thing that’s really got me scared – the thing that’s actually keeping me up at night – is the fear of failure. Of not finishing the course at all. Or worse, coming dead last. This is scaring me more than serious bodily harm. I can handle physical pain. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t handle emotional pain.

Ze Frank has some comforting things to say about this. Especially this line:

Let me think about the people who I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me… I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.

If my wife did anything like this, if she even signed up for something like this, I would be so proud of her. If she came dead last – if it took her eight hours to finish the course and everyone else had gone home – I’d still be at the finish line, cheering for her like she’d just out-run Usain Bolt. Can I do the same for myself?

On second thought, maybe I should be watching clips from Rocky instead. Much less likely to make me cry.