The Fear of Failure


When the word fear comes to mind, I tend to think "I'm not scared of much, really".  But then as I sit with the question and analyze it all a bit more, I realize that isn't true.  I'm fearful, terrified really, of one big thing that affects different parts of my life in many ways.  Failure.  

That "F" word is one that has followed me around and pushed me to do big things but has held me back from doing others.  Failure scares me.  Failing in front of other people is even scarier.  For a long time I was scared to really put myself out there, to show my passions for fear of failing and everyone watching my fall.


But then I became a mom and I watched failure manifest itself in another way.  I am terrified of not being a good mother.  Of not doing justice to these two tiny humans who rely on me for nearly everything.  I push myself to extremes with these two because I am so scared of failing them.  Of them growing up to be anything other than gentlemen.  Of them not showing kindness and empathy.  I'm terrified that someone will someday tell me I have a bad kid.  Because in that moment, I'll know I have failed.

Harrison has tested every inch of this fear of being a good mom.  I snap at him.  I have to put him down and walk away while he screams.  And just recently, we decided that he would have to go to daycare when he's just over 4 months old so that I could regain a little bit of my sanity.  Harrison and Henry will both be in daycare for 10 hours per week so that I can recover.  Admitting I need that felt like the ultimate failure.  Why am I not strong enough, not good enough, to handle the stress?  I try to tell myself that when I have a little break it will allow me to not only be a better mom to them, but it will also give me the time I desperately need to run my business without screaming children next to me.  But then the little voice in the back of my mind steamrolls the conversation and reminds me that I should be able to do this.


My business is the other place in my life with the constant haunting of failure hanging over it.  When I have low sales, when things don't go as I had hoped, when we lose a subscriber.  All of those things feel like little failures adding up, mocking me.  Am I not cut out to be a business owner?  What makes me think I can run a magazine?  Did I really leave my full-time job to do this?  What was I thinking?

Plus - everyone in my life knows about the magazine.  And what happens if I don't make it?  If I have to close down the magazine?  Everyone will see that failure.  They'll know I couldn't do it.  


I have been desperately trying to flip these fears on their head.  I've been trying to remind myself that when a mom gets a little bit of herself back, it only makes her a BETTER mom.  And when I have 10 hours a week to just work on my business, what will I be able to accomplish?!  And, if the magazine were to shut down tomorrow, it's been over 3 years of me pouring myself into something bigger than me.  So really, is that a failure in the end?

To anyone else, I'd say "stop being so hard on yourself, you're doing your best".  But that fear of failure prevents me from saying that to myself.  I am trying to be okay with what I perceive as failure.  I'm trying to give myself a break and reconcile the fact that I am human, after all.  It's easier said than done and I will likely be a work in progress forever, but I am trying.


This post was written based on the monthly theme from H&L Writes, a new monthly membership program specifically for writers by Holl & Lane Magazine.