Atychiphobia, otherwise known as a fear of failure, is all too common in today’s world. For some, this fear is a diagnosable phobia according to the standards of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual– V. However, the majority of people who have a fear of failure feel it at a manageable level.
Why are we afraid to try a new sport, ask out that cutie at the bar, or apply for a new job? Because we cannot guarantee that the result will be positive. Maybe you realize that you can’t kick a ball, or the cutie rejects you. These things are not such a big deal, as with most things in life in which we could succeed or fail. It’s not as if failure will kill us, so it may seem silly to be afraid of it.
For most people, a fear of failure really translates into a fear of shame or embarrassment. It is not the act of dropping a ball that is terrifying, but the subsequent embarrassment that follows when our peers see us make a mistake. It’s a chain of events; most of us fear embarrassment, so we avoid doing things that might lead to it.
Failure most often leads to embarrassment, so we avoid events that we are not guaranteed to succeed in. In the long term, that mindset leads to a lot of missed opportunities. Life is built on chances, and not all of those chances will work out; but as Mandy Hale once said, “sometimes a mistake can end up being the best decision you ever make,” (The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass).
It is easy to say that we should all take more risks and not be afraid of failure, but in all honesty I am very much afraid of failure. I am fearless when it comes to applications; I will apply for most jobs and internships that I am even somewhat qualified for, until my schedule fills up. However, I am very much afraid of academic failure. I will avoid taking a difficult class, even if it looks interesting, because I know that I will be throwing money down the drain if I am not able to pass. I started my spring semester today at my university, and was sitting in my planetary astronomy lecture when my professor said something that I had never really thought of.
He said that we will all, at some point, be frustrated with the material in the course; however, that frustration is simply the soreness your mind feels when it has been exercised well. The idea is similar to being sore after a really good workout; it may hurt initially, but after the soreness or frustration comes growth and progress. In order to truly grow our minds, we must go through a phase where we feel frustrated at the difficulty of the material.
The bottom line of this philosophy is something we must all remember when we feel a fear of failure creeping up; we must take chances to achieve growth. Sometimes failures are even better for improvement than success; no one will get a medal for coming in last place in a race, but it will sure be a learning experience that will provide you with personal growth that can extend into all areas of life.
So take a chance; it may be scary, but you never know what will happen. You may fail, but you may also change your life forever for the better.