Don’t let the fear of failure stop you

I am 6 months away from turning 30 and still feel like I’m learning to be an adult. In fact, I regularly utter the words “I need an adult” when I have to do anything that could be perceived as “adulting” — like speaking to my accountant (?!?). As a teenager I was so sure that at this point in my life I would have everything figured out…

You are allowed to enjoy things without being good at them

On my first full day of being a 29-year old lady, I had a really interesting conversation.

Every two weeks I have a catch up with the women I work with. We work in a pretty male-dominated industry and enjoy this time to let off some steam and talk about “life, the universe and everything”.

We got on to the topic of hobbies outside of work and the discussion quickly became about what we are “good” at outside of work. I have one colleague who is a talented painter, another who sings and one who is a keen baker. It became pretty obvious that, for us, hobbies came down to enjoyment = “being good at”.

It reminded me of an article I had read (but cannot for the life of me remember where). The basic premise was this: you are allowed to enjoy things without being good at them. It may sound obvious to some but for me this was something I had never thought about. In fact there are many things that I have enjoyed but stopped doing because, quite frankly, I sucked: singing is probably at the top of that list.

I brought this up with the rest of the group expecting them to say that this was nothing new. It turns out we are a group of miserable perfectionists and we had all stopped doing things because we sucked.

Just live your life

So, since that conversation I have been taking small steps to go outside of my comfort zone and risk “failure”. Here are a few:

  • I started going to the gym again. I had been avoiding it because I’m worried that I look like a clumsy stick insect when I exercise. It turns out I actually enjoy the feeling of doing something good for my body more than I care what I look like doing it.
  • I started painting. I was told I’m not very artistically talented (to put it mildly) by multiple people growing up and it put me off even trying for a long time. The painting is certainly no masterpiece, but I have been enjoying the process.
  • I have been singing loudly and joyfully on car journeys and at home without fear of my boyfriend abandoning ship or calling an exorcist. Although I think he may be a little unnerved by the amount of grime (music not dirt) on my playlists…

The truth is, once you are able to act in spite of fear, it shrinks away, defeated. Once you are able to do things you enjoy without worrying about judgement or failure, you can get on and just live your life.

I’m still a long way from completely fearless and karaoke nights still fill me with dread, but I’m learning and that’s good enough for now.



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