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How to Avoid These 4 Common
Prejudices About Failures

By Donna Moores

Recently, on a train, I witnessed a peculiar scene. Two kids, a four-year-old boy and a peer girl, got bored during the trip and wished to introduce themselves to each other and play together. However, both of them were too shy for the first move. Despite that they both wanted to play, they couldn’t even talk to each other. It reminded me thousand times when I got no courage to invite somebody out or even get to know other people because I was afraid to get rejected. When I looked at those kids on the train I understood that this strange fear of failure is not something we’ve got as a complement to an adult life. This is a fear we’ve always been carrying with us. But how come we allow it to control and censor our lives? What makes it so compelling?

Below I’ll outline four prejudices that support our fear of failures and ways to stop letting them work against us...

1. Everybody will see our fails

The strongest fear we all share concerns a belief that other people will see our missteps and weaknesses. What exactly we are afraid of? We don’t want others to laugh at us. It’s silly of course, but even people acknowledged as the most beautiful and successful are very dependent on the masses’ opinion. For examples, Scarlett Johansson has body insecurities and Jennifer Lawrence suffers social anxiety. You might think that these feelings don’t link with the fear to fail, but they do. Both of them derive from the fear of revealing our personal imperfection. We keep repeating ourselves that nobody is perfect, but in fact, we still seek to be an exception. And when we logically fail to be perfect, we eat ourselves out. Well, relax. Nobody cares about our failures because everybody is busy thinking about their owns.

2. If I don’t do risky things I’ll make fewer mistakes

There is probably no more harmful prejudice than this one because it restrains us from doing important things in our lives. Most of us think that if we stick to the well-thought plan and don’t step aside from it, we will preserve ourselves from failures. We won’t thus avoid setbacks, since sticking to the plan may lead to losing opportunities, which is also kind of mistake. When I was a student, I kept my focus solely on the studying. I didn’t have extracurriculars since I thought that such things would harm my academic performance. While I was struggling to get all As, my peers traveled around the country, started businesses, gained work experience. As a result, after graduation, I had a shining certificate with the highest GPA, but to my greatest surprise, employers weren’t lining up to hire me. My friends who had work experience instead of excellent grades were more preferable candidates for employers.

I have always tried to do everything right then why I have failed? Because I was so badly afraid to fail. My best advice for students: don’t be scared to make a mistake. The worst mistake you can make is to limit your life trying to avoid failures. Instead, find an internship>, do volunteering, get a part-time job, learn languages, meet new people - do things. Remember that the most bitter regret is always about what we didn’t do, not about what we did.

3. My story - is a story of my failures

In my darkest moments, I think that people around not only notice my failures but remember them. And my fiasco is what I will be associated with in the first place. In other words, my story is the story of my mistakes. This thought is as common as it’s wrong. You know these words saying that we are defined not by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. I think that neither our failures nor the way we survive them can determine who we are. We have good and bad moments in life, that is how life works. A failure is an unavoidable, natural part of our story, but indeed is not the only or the main one. If you keep focus on your defeats, you won’t be able to recognize the wins.

And one more thing. If there are people around you, who don’t miss a chance to remind you about your setbacks, think twice before letting these people stay in your life.

4. Successful people don’t fail

Scrolling your Facebook newsfeed you see how pretty, smart, and successful are people around. People are, but you are not. Why is that so? The easiest way to explain this is to think that those people are just fortunate. Luck is something you cannot control, so it’s not your fault if you are not lucky. But is it really a matter of fortune? Is it luck that all successful people should be thankful for? The thing is that people who reach success make so many attempts and fail so many times that they make luck statistically unavoidable.

In other words, successful people failed many more times than we allow ourselves to fail. Meryl Streep, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg - all of them were rejected and told they were not good enough. But they kept trying and kept failing one time after another and eventually succeeded. So the difference between lucky people and losers is that a possibility of fiasco doesn’t stop the lucky ones.

Final thoughts

Many people build their lives on these prejudices about fails. They intentionally restrict their lives choosing only the beaten paths. It’s great if you like living so, but if you feel like something’s missing, you most probably should give yourself a right to a mistake. These prejudices are as groundless as they are natural. Moreover, I would hardly believe if there is a single person in the world who hasn’t ever had a failure anxiety. To reduce the impact of this fear on your life you should keep in mind three things:

  • Nobody cares about your failures. Those who do are weird - avoid them.
  • Successful people fail more times than losers because they just make more attempts.
  • Your failures teach you much more than your wins. So value them.
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