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  • Writer's pictureDavid John Brady

Why do we think we will fail?

I have made the same mistake that we all will make, or have made in our lives, by postponing what is important due to fear of failure.

Fear of failure can manifest itself in as simple a form as not applying for a job because we think we are under-qualified. Sure, if we are drastically under-qualified, then almost certainly the job will not be ours, but who is to make that initial judgement? Who decides the value of others? It is all so very subjective and that is where the problem lies.

Think of the influences you have had in your life that provide you with your value structure? Parents, celebrities, musicians, anthropologists, public figures. Many sources of influence, here in the UK and in other such countries revolve around the media and marketing, with the underlying thought that is being pushed upon us being 'more is better'; more security, more money, more attractive partners, more expensive tastes, more attention, more social status. Digital social media has just made this influence a whole lot more potent for young people today, compared to when I was a child. People today are being subjected to unrealistic comparisons of their idols, their peers and other influencers - all under the narrow view and bright (and often false) light of social media. This may seem that I am idealising the 'good old days' without digital social media, but I am merely shining a light on the fact that we now have a different set of social and personal challenges relating to our own self-worth and self-esteem.

To put this into context, I have for many years claimed to have been an active musician, where in reality I was not being honest with myself, I was only ever semi-active. I made creative decisions which would allow no room for failure or judgement from others. I would write a song, show it to a small group of people of whom I would know the reaction would overall be a positive one and therefore no damage would be done to my esteem or ego. With the ruthlessness of social media, it was clear that anything I showed the world that was not perfect, would be torn apart by the masses. There is always a better musician, a smarter person, a healthier person, a richer person. Seeing these prime examples of 'success' on social media made me feel like my dream of being a successful musician was saved for those with 'more'. I would suppress my creativity for fear of failure, failure being the result of negative feedback or not meeting my own expectations (although I had no idea what my expectations were).

Educating myself through books of both fiction and science and the stories of others, along with my own experience, has allowed me to broaden my opinions on life and adopt a more pragmatic and rational approach to success. It may sound obvious, but changing my perspective of what 'success' is, has allowed me to unshackle the creativity within me. In addition to this, certain people in my life and their ideas have made following my passion a lot less daunting and scary. One particular idea is that following a path you value, is equally or more important than following the path of least resistance (the easy path). It is important to remember that the path you value - such as the one of creativity - is filled with hurdles and challenges, but that you may become at peace with these challenges when you know that what you are doing is for the good of yourself and/or those around you. Art and Music are excellent examples of paths which can nurture empathy, curiosity and openness - all are values which often showcase the best that humanity has to offer.

We think we will fail because of our unreasonably high standards, encouraged by modern societal norms and expectations, but understanding that the people you see and compare yourself with are just like you - at uniquely unabridged parts of their own journey, with so many variables - is enlightening. Status and social standing dictates nothing of the worth of people, especially the ones you hold in highest regard like your loved ones and more importantly, yourself. There is, and never should be a prerequisite for creativity or following your passion. If you fear the judgement of one, remember the encouragement of many. Please, do not live in fear, live a life of value - and you get to decide what that value is.

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