At my core, I am a perfectionist, so failing scares the crap out of me. I used to fall apart when I thought I had failed at things.
This month I saw Captain Marvel. I was brimming with both excitement and fear, because it’s no secret to people that know me that I love the character and I also adore Kelly Sue DeConnick, the writer who helped to breathe new life into Carol Danvers a few years ago. I’ll avoid spoilers, but in the trailer and in the comic, there are discussions and visuals about falling down and getting back up. Failure is falling down, but you can make the choice to get back up.
Failure is a tool that teaches us more about ourselves, about what we need to learn and how we need to grow. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the Captain Marvel comics that outlines the concept very well:
“Have you ever seen a little girl run so fast she falls down? There’s an instant, a fraction of a second before the world catches hold of her again… A moment when she’s outrun every doubt and fear she’s ever had about herself and she flies. In that one moment, every little girl flies. I need to find that again. Like taking a car out into the desert to see how fast it can go, I need to find the edge of me… And maybe, if I fly far enough, I’ll be able to turn around and look at the world… And see where I belong.”
– Captain Marvel Vol 8 Issue 1 – Kelly Sue DeConnick
If we don’t fail, we don’t grow. Though we can definitely learn from a variety of sources, I think it tends to be the times we make mistakes or fail that we learn the most solid lessons.
We also learn from feedback on our mistakes or failures. I am a big fan of constructive criticism because it can help you gain skills and knowledge you did not have before. It’s like sharpening a knife. If you put a knife against a soft surface it’s not going to get any sharper. It has to be put against a rough surface over and over for the blade to get sharp again.
So how do you conquer the fear of failure?
I am by no means perfect at this, but these are the things that have helped me:
- Fake it till you make it. If you want to be a writer, write and tell people you are a writer.
- Remind yourself that failure is a part of the learning process.
- Give yourself time to feel the fear, then move on and push through.
And lastly, don’t forget to enjoy those moments of freefall, when you’re soaring for just a second. The world will get hold of you again, but you’ll never know what you can accomplish until you push your limits.