I’m not quite sure when my fear of failure developed. It seems odd that it would develop at all when my whole life friends and family members have spent time telling me how I’m special. But in the midst of all that positive talk to boost my self-esteem I found the fear somewhere. It probably revealed itself the first time I answered something incorrectly in elementary school or maybe after the repeated below average grades in math classes. Still, I was being told to not put so much pressure on my self. That I was still something special. That I was going to figure things out. The myth of figuring things out is still passed out like propaganda. It’s whispered down hallways and told in homes. It’s delivered in inspirational graduation speeches. It gives you the guarantee that there is something above average out in the world waiting for you.
So we listen. We listen to the pep talks, and speeches and put the blocks of success down to build a very tall tower that we can stand on top of, but remain completely ignorant to the fact that we have built our own Babel. We stand close to the heavens and point to the skies in excitement of the future that we paint for ourselves when all of a sudden a swift wind of the universe blows. It takes everything down with it and destroys what turned out to be very delicate building materials in the first place. Here we sit in the harsh dirt of reality, making mud pies, and wondering if anything will help make us feel that tall again.
It now seems as if the fear has turned into an actual reality, present in the form of living at home with my parents and with no job prospects in sight. “Dear Brooke, thank you for expressing interest in ________ but after careful review of your background we have chosen to pursue other candidates.” Each time I open my email it seems as if I’m rolling the dice to either achieve my greatest dreams or to be hit with the same fear over and over again. The word special seems farther away and the word average seems to be more realistic. A word that never seemed to be a threat until now.
My grandmother once told my mom that she never worried about me. In comparison to my older brother she knew that I was on a track for my life that was supposed to equal success.
Good high school = Good college and Good college = Good job which = Good life.
But maybe if she could see me now and see the current job market she would put her energy into worrying about me. Maybe the real problem is that I’m just too average? Too average to really ever find a career. Too average to be one of the lucky ones that makes it. You spend your whole life hearing from friends and family members that there is something special about you when maybe there just isn’t. This of course is the scariest thought of all and probably beats failure for the number one spot on my greatest fears list.
The optimist in me refuses to believe that and wants to shout, “I am special! Why can’t you see it!?” Unfortunately, our culture survives on the very fact that what I said above is true. That some people have to be average in order for someone else to shine above. Maybe I am average. My experiences are probably similar to any other twenty something and at the end of the day maybe that is growing up. Being able to recognize that there is nothing special to you at all. But if I can’t at least be special it is my hope that I will at least will get to witness something special in my life from another source. That at least if I can’t create it that I will have the extraordinary privilege to witness it, and hopefully I’ll be just above average enough to notice it when it happens.