Feeling Inadequate: Fear of Failure in Disguise

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Feeling like the shoes you’re being asked to wear are bigger than what you’re capable of? That could be true, but chances are you’re fit for the challenge. 

Have you ever been asked to do something and immediately agree to do it, but suddenly stop in your tracks worried that you aren’t totally qualified or ready for the task at hand? It’s a pretty crumby feeling. I think we’ve all been there. But what happens after this point of realization, is where we can allow fear to taint the remainder of our experience, or embrace the discomfort and put ourselves “out there” for experiences that bring growth.

To take on a challenge whether you think you’re ready or not, may seem foolish. But I’m not talking about applying for a job opening that requires a master’s degree when you’ve just received your associate’s. I’m talking about those times you turn your friend down on a cool adventure or new experience because you just don’t think you are up for that kind of a thing right now. I’m talking about times when you didn’t go to that one really cool event because you were afraid you would feel awkward if you went alone. Or times when we consume our minds with fear of failure at a new job promotion at work. We have all felt inadequate at some point, but the difference between truly successful people and the rest of the world, is their ability to pick themselves up from these feelings of inadequacy and move on, realizing that failure is not something that we should be afraid of, but rather just an opportunity for growth.

As I have grown older, I have had the chance to reflect on opportunities that I turned down in my life. Experiences that I have said “no” to simply because I didn’t feel well equipped for them. And looking back, I can now see that my feelings of inadequacy were fueled by my fear of failure. I told myself that I was inadequate for the job at hand, but I later realized that I was really just afraid to fail. To me, the feeling of inadequacy is almost an illusion. I totally know that I can pick up new skills or habits needed in order to successfully complete the given task at hand. I know that if I simply give something my all, I would pick it up eventually. But what ultimately held me back in the past, was my fear of the failures it would take to get to the point of mastering a new skill.

The problem with deep rooted feelings as these is that they have the ability to have a lasting impact on the entire given experience. Personally, I often feel that the feelings of so called “inadequacy” stick around for much longer than I would ever like to admit, even after I do step out of my comfort zone and try a new thing. And in some cases, if I don’t address it right away it never leaves. The issue with feeling inadequate is that it often shines a negative light on future experiences and sets you up for less than your best because of the constant fear of ‘what if’. (You know, those ‘what if’ scenarios that you play over and over again in your head.)

But there are many amazing things that are brought to us simply by failing. Failure always lends the best lessons for future success, and allows for us to learn far more than if we were to immediately succeed at trying something new. Failure insures that we won’t make the same mistake again or at least lets us know areas of weaknesses that we can strengthen in order to be a more well rounded person. And the best realization I’ve ever had about failure is that it is never permanent. We most always have the opportunity to try again in some type of way. If failures bring us this much growth, why waste so much time in fear what others may think or do if we fail?  Plus, the more you fail and openly accept that it is part of the learning process, the more others feel comfortable doing the same as well.

So here’s to failing. And learning. And growing. Because these are the fundamentals of all things we learn here on earth, and ultimately what can make us the best we can possibly be. Saying no to failing is like saying no to growth, and what a awful mindset that can be. There is always room for growth, if we only choose to fail and learn from those so called failures. What a beautiful thing failing can be.


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