The Gist


Why have we become so afraid of failure? Why do we not allow ourselves to stumble? After all, it’s only part of the process...

/ 24 October 2021

How many times must we have fallen down and tripped on our toes when we were learning to walk as children? How many words did we possibly say wrong before we pronounced all the syllables correctly? How many b’s did we write as d’s and vice versa before we got our alphabet all memorized? Experience dictates that failure is part of the process. So why, as we get older, are we now so afraid of it?

Undeniably, sometimes it feels like it was much easier to learn something new when you were younger. You would have had more time and thus, amassed more experience. If you started way back then, you would probably be proficient by now. However, it is really not too late to start anything.

The first time I got to take voice lessons was last year. This was something I have always wanted to do and that is why despite my hesitations—despite thinking that I might be too old to just be starting and that I’ll probably be the only college student among all their class takers—I still went through with it and it was pretty…brutal.

My teacher was patient and kind but I really was not the same to myself. I would get frustrated whenever I made mistakes with the key or when I couldn’t get a note right. Coming to our sessions, I would feel ashamed because maybe I actually am unteachable when it comes to this and I should just quit. I would beat myself up for not learning quicker—for not being automatically better and that is just futile.

It took me becoming so afraid of doing something I loved for me to realize that my biggest mistake in learning to sing was not being sharp or flat or messing up the key. My biggest mistake was that I was too fearful about failing. This really is not a helpful mindset to have when learning just about anything new. It doesn’t matter if it’s singing or dancing, if it’s a new topic in math or science, if it’s how to write your thesis—rarely anyone is brilliant or flawless at the outset. It is absolutely okay to allow yourself room to stumble on your path to proficiency.

I am well aware that life sometimes has a way of making you feel like you don’t have the privilege to learn anything gradually. Especially, when the idiom “time is money” seems to be the prevailing attitude. However, I find that realigning your mindset especially when you are starting to lose sight of your goal and why it originally mattered is immensely helpful in getting you there quicker.

It is alright to be frustrated when you fail, however, you must not get stuck on that feeling. There is so much more to life than whatever it is you are struggling to learn at the moment! The only way out is through. So, dust yourself off, look at your mistake as an opportunity to actually learn more, and make that effort to do better. Don’t forget to be patient with yourself as well as try to find enjoyment in the process.

Whatever it may be that you want to learn or get into, I suggest that you grab the opportunity to do so now. If your only hesitation stems from a fear of failure, look back on how far you have come in life and shut that hesitation down. Draw inspiration from the kid you once were who first crawled, walked, and eventually learned how to run!