“You’re afraid you are going to fail, so you are not even trying.”
These words hold so true. They were said to me out of love and that is all the difference, but that doesn’t mean they don’t burn. The problem, however, is that I don’t know what to do with that. As I work through this issue over and over again, I’ve yet to come to an answer. Therefore, this piece might be very confusing to those reading if from the outside. It’s confusing to me from an inside perspective, but writing is how I sort out these things best.
I won’t lie, I struggle with failure. Who doesn’t? My expectations often exceed what I can actually accomplish, which leads me to wonder if I set myself up to fail subconsciously. The problem is that I walk this line of what I want and what seems to be what can be had. I don’t understand why I can’t have what doesn’t come, however, and take my “failures” hard at a very personal and deep level (depression, giving up, and sobbing come to mind).
It’s not exactly that I want to share these fun-facts about myself, but these are real issues. Issues that come up over and over again. Issues that make me feel like I’ve failed those I counsel and a hypocrite to my own encouraging mantras. Sometimes I even think I overcompensate for my fear of failure to the point that I create a goal that is simply not attainable. And when my goal is not met, I beat myself up and point out how much I’ve failed in life. I focus on how I’m not meant to succeed and that I obviously do not have what it takes to be “that person.”
And then my mind floods with all the areas of my life where I have failed before (past jobs, my marriage, past goals, my weight, and the list goes on). You might take note that not all of these things are failures. Most of them were learning experiences or chances to grow into who I am today. But in my mind, on certain occasions, I dwell on them as huge failures that are a track record of my inability to succeed on a most basic level. All of these thoughts create an emotional world in my mind that is dark and depressing and I feel the need to run away. If I run away to a new place, a new start, a new whatever, then everything will be better.
Even as I type these words, I know how ludicrous they are. Which leads to yet another issue that I deal with almost daily. My rational self versus my emotional self. Hint: My emotional self ALWAYS wins.
My rational self tries to go back and figure out why I think this way. What did I learn in my past that leads me to perceive myself as a failure and why has all of my positive thinking not broken the spell of those old thoughts? My personal interest in daily freedom and doing what I love, in and of itself, should be enough to overcome my fear of failure. My legit fear of losing what I’ve worked so hard for and finding myself in a 9 to 5 world should be enough. But yet I struggle to find balance and…patience.
In my world, if I put in 110%, I expect 100% in return. If I put in 12 months of hard work, I expect the equivalent of someone else’s 2 years. Self-sabotage anyone? And even though I know these expectations are beyond attainable in most situations, I fight myself each and every step of the way.
And in all of this, I want to blame my husband. He is the one that always told me I was a failure (it sure wasn’t my parents). He is the one that told me nothing I did was good enough. He was the one that pushed me to succeed and then made it so hard to be successful that I fell often and was continuously picking myself up. He was the one that always wanted to move and start new, which I clung to. New beginnings would mean a happier husband and, therefore, a happier marriage. He was the one that hounded me about my weight.
But then I have a serious conversation with myself (this would be the rational side speaking) and wonder if it is all really just me, and I’m looking to excuse my problems by blaming him.
The irony here is that if a woman came to me and shared this very story, I would tell her that she is excusing his behavior and that she is her own individual. That these thoughts were embedded in her by her abuser from the time she was a young girl and they are a part of who she is now. That she needs to decide that her abuser does not determine who she is and it is time to start rewiring her brain to think differently.
Perhaps it is time I take my own advice?
At the end of the day, it is actually irrelevant where these thoughts came from. I have a choice, right this moment, to end them and to proceed through life with a different set of truths. It will take work, no doubt, but each and every day I am growing. Each and every day, I’m learning how to be a better version of myself, one that I want to live with. This is my choice.
More importantly, I have to give myself the time to grow and have to work to stay positive. Perhaps I will be here writing again sometimes in the future, rehashing what should already be learned. I hope not, but sometimes it takes a few tries to get to where we need to be.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, if you are. We are all in this together. You are not alone in your struggles and this is something we all have to remember…myself included.