Failing to Fail Does Not Mean Succeeding

In my regular therapy session yesterday, my therapist and I were talking about my anxiety and how it drags down my confidence levels, which in turn makes me overly risk-averse. In other words, I fail to fail because I never try. The problem is that failing to fail does not mean succeeding.

We are meant to fail. It is how we learn. It is how we grow. It is why insurance is more expensive for teenagers than adults because the assumption is that teenagers will make a mistake but that adults will have learned from their mistakes. It is why we make sure to wear helmets and pads when we take the training wheels off because without them we expect the rider to fall at first before they learn to balance.

Yet I have ridden through life, for the most part, by using training wheels. It is why I haven’t been more aggressive about pursuing my career. It is why I have been content with not fighting for the best I can get. The best that I deserve.

And yes, it is my mental illness that lies and gives me this lack of self-confidence, that whispers in my ears that the accomplishments I do have must have been a mistake. And rather than feed that impostor syndrome, I back down far too often.

Healing, recovering, these things take time but they also require growth. And growth is lacking if one never makes mistakes if one never gives themself room to grow. But the good news is my story isn’t over yet.

My failure to fail may have caused me to hit pause in some ways, but not stop. I can start small, taking little risks, and making little mistakes until I work my way up to big risks and big mistakes. And then, who knows how much I’ll have grown or what will be possible. And the good news is that if you want to grow, if you struggle with risk-taking and mistake-making, then there is still time for you too.

And so, in addition to thanking you all for reading, I would like to leave you with something someone I went to college used to say: “Reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground.”

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