Failure is not an end … but fear of failure can end things

Thirty years ago, I was learning to drive.

Aug. 2, 1982

Dear Diary,

After our trip to California, I had to start behind-the-wheel right away. The first day I went, I was dressed in loose Chic jeans, an old shirt of Mom’s and my hair wasn’t curled or anything — it was straight and in barrettes. I didn’t look good at all and you’ll never guess who I had the unfortune of having it with: [name deleted to protect the innocent — for the purposes of this blog post, we’ll call him Reeve], Mr. Perfect — almost tall, beautiful hair, a super athlete and rich.

I couldn’t even drive.

The next day, I curled my hair and looked halfway decent but of course I couldn’t make any conversation, I was just so nervous.

Anyone else remember Chic jeans? Misfortune, anyone? Right around that time, I bought some skin-tight Gloria Vanderbilt jeans — those were a lot more fashionable. At least in Wadena.

Mr. Polloch, the instructor tried making conversation with us while we were driving but I couldn’t talk and drive at the same time. Reeve could though. Just from listening I learned that Reeve went to France by himself and visited an old friend. That French people smell. French movies are very expensive, and that he went on a bike trip while he was there. I learned that he has a cabin on Pine Lake, eats Cheerios for breakfast and has a huge boat. Lots more, too, but some I don’t remember and some is trivial.

Like “Cheerios for breakfast” isn’t trivial?

One Friday, I had to take a test. I was so nervous I couldn’t eat breakfast. I passed though, with an 81. Reeve got a 92 or 94 (he can even drive!).

Some lessons need to be learned over and over again. For me, it’s not driving I need to learn (while my Beloved thinks I drive like an old lady, I will point out the only real accident in which I’ve been involved was caused by someone else –Dad, I’m not counting the garage door).

No, the lesson I can’t seem to get through my head is that learning oftentimes means not knowing what to do and sometimes means failing.

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

It’s a serious character defect that I fear failure so much it paralyzes me.

I’ve spent the past week formatting my memoir for publication, and I’ve learned more about Microsoft Word and e-publications than I have time (or you’d have interest) to recount. I’ve spent weeks (months? some might say years?) fidgeting in my seat and dragging my feet and (and other metaphors for procrastinating), thinking I could figure out self-publishing by reading about it.

Nope, it requires experiential learning. Just like learning to drive.

15 responses to “Failure is not an end … but fear of failure can end things

  1. You’re afraid of failing and you wrote a book? Really? (Ok, yes, I totally get it, but still am in awe.)

    • Writing the book is the easy part (for word lovers who feel compelled to write one). You can even get help from friends (who are avid readers, of course) who help you by proofreading it and giving constructive comments. And then… after months of editing and re-editing, you really have to sell it. Either way, via self publishing or to a literary agent. This is what causes being frozen in fear. Every bit of rational thinking is dismissed by the great trickster, our mind. ‘I’m not good enough.’ ‘It’s not good enough.’ ‘Why did I even write it?’ ‘Who on earth would want to read it?’ ‘What was I thinking?!’ The Great Trickster at work. Help us!!! 🙂

      • minnesotatransplant

        Yes, I’ve been wrestling with the Great Trickster for a year. You are echoing my thoughts exactly!

  2. Agree with Trina – it is awesome you wrote a book. I’d go so far as to say it was courageous:) Can’t wait to read it!

    • minnesotatransplant

      Thanks, Trina and Sandy! I appreciate the moral support (some days, I’m still stoking my courage!)

  3. Hey. Join the club! 😉
    If you beat me to the goal I’ll have NO excuse. Send me your sources of things you learned, okay? Be the expert who’s not too high up to help someone else, okay? Thanks!

  4. Well, thank you WordPress for recommending this transplant’s blog! ‘Fear of failure’ hit a chord, so I read on. In the throes of reclaiming an old (long expired) driver’s licence, I continued reading. My favourite book by Richard Bach is The Bridge Across Forever, in which he meets the woman he claims to be his soul mate. It was not until today (because he is quoted by you on your book info page) that I figured ‘he must be dead by now!’ Not so, wikipedia informs me. Stronger still, when I thought he was deliriously happy with Leslie, the wife/soul mate from The Bridge Across Forever, he was probably already eyeing wife #3. And I think I know why I found this out today. Your book is likely to strike a chord with people who are looking to connect with empathy, sympathy, and hope, as Bach’s Bridge offered. What happens after that, who gives a hoot, as long as the book strikes a chord with readers NOW. Your target market, therefore, is the most important in your marketing strategy. But what do I know, I’m just hypothesising out loud. 😉

    • minnesotatransplant

      Thank you for finding me and commenting! Your thoughts on Richard Bach may inspire a blog post for me. And about my target market? Fascinating. I’m writing my book jacket copy for the hardcover now — I may append some of your thinking. Thank you!

  5. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
    ― Thomas A. Edison

  6. Pingback: Failure is not an end … but fear of failure can end things | Monica Lee

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