Screwing Up is not the Worst Thing that could Happen Here

It’s not stupid to have a stated goal of starting several ventures that will fail, or asking three stupid questions a week, or posting a blog post that the world disagrees with. If you don’t have goals like this, how exactly are you going to luck into being remarkable? — Seth Godin

I’m going to buck the system here and publicly admit that I fear failing. (Even though my intellect likes to butt in at this point and say “It’s only a failure if you let it stop you,” or some platitude like that.)

I fear screwing up. I fear looking bad, and losing the respect of people I love and admire. Ok? I’ve said it. I dare you to put up your hand and say, “Me, too.”

I fear those screwups, the ways in which I haven’t lived up to expectations, because I’m afraid that I won’t like myself anymore, and if I can’t like myself, why would anyone else? On one hand, I have quite a high opinion of myself, but…if I never accomplished anything else for the rest of my life, if I tried and failed again and again… would I still hold my head up high? Would I keep my sense of humor? Or, as I fear, would I become a nasty, embittered loser?

While I’m pretty sure I won’t like myself if I fail, I know I won’t like myself if I let myself operate out of a place of fear. So I do a pretty good job of shoving my way past it. I like to perform for strangers, for example, because I could give a shit what a faceless crowd thinks of me. But the flip side is now also true. I don’t care if they love me, either, because shit, what do they know, anyway? At least my defense mechanisms are consistent, right?

But I notice, as I start to make more friends here on the interwebs, that I’m scared all the time. Usually it’s half and half with exhilaration, but still… I don’t know you guys. Why do I care what you think?

And yet, where I could be a faceless, meaningless simulacrum of some idealized version of myself, I find myself compelled to relentlessly, exactingly honest.

To be frank, that’s really weird for me, because I have an actor’s tendency to see every social interaction as a role to play, and play up! I was talking to Karen today, and she was saying how it seemed that even though everyone says “Don’t fear failure,” they don’t seem to even believe it themselves.

I think that’s true, in that everyone’s ego is fully invested in not looking like a fool. But even when I feel the fear, I remind myself: Screwing up is not the worst thing that could happen here.


9 thoughts on “Screwing Up is not the Worst Thing that could Happen Here”

    1. With age comes wisdom…but I just can’t wait! No, seriously, that’s actually pretty nice: you can never stop learning. So there’s always somthing to challenge you. As long as you’re not too afraid to screw up. =)

  1. {Oh – now, that was weird! – the belly-flippy-flop thing going on between when I read ‘Karen’ (oh, she must mean a different Karen!) and when I clicked the link and *my* blog came up! Whoa ~ }

    GOOD Morning, Shanna!!

    Maybe it’s about a mashup of wanting to be Liked and Loved and Respected and Understood and “Seen as a valid yuman bean”. We (collective, gross-generality ‘we’, there) often have a somewhat tenuous grasp on the subtle differences between emotions – –

    {and now this comes up in my head: “owhh!! now yure just makin’ sh*t up, to hear yerse’f talk!”) Which isn’t really true – just fgroping around for the ‘right ‘ words ~~

    Of course, I did raise my hand – high and without shame – at the top… And fear of ‘looking bad’ (to some imaginary, more-important-than-me ‘other’ out there) IS a big reason there’s so many holes in my previous posts list!! EGO is often a very sensitive-to-perceived-slights dude, who has collected some bizarr-o ideas about how the world works. And he can yell pretty loud when he’s afraid of something …

    Hmmmmm?/ Did any of that have anything to do with anything you said or were thinking? or even make sense?
    (I do care, too, but I’m pushing the button anyway 😉 K

    1. What, you don’t remember making that comment? I should have changed the tense…but it was getting late when I wrote that. Way to shut up the voices!

  2. Oooh – these last two posts (this one and “Leveling Up…”) are kinda ‘two sides of the same dodecahedron’, aren’t they?

    (for those of you who want to stay out of search-overload-land, that’s a twelve-sided solid) K

  3. Shanna,
    I enjoyed your post! Who doesn’t have a fear of failing? I sure do – but I trudge on anyway. I figure that if I do fail – at least I tried and hopefully will have learned something from my failure.

    1. Yes, I know everyone does it… But everyone chirps that old saw “nothing to fear but fear itself,” Which I fear drives the fearful underground out of shame. I’m just giving voice to it so that it isn’t one of those things “one doesn’t talk about.” I’ve really enjoyed the articles I’ve read at your place. I’ll have to make some time and snoop around some more!

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