I think we can all pinpoint one moment in our life when our world felt as if it were falling apart and nothing could ever set it right again. It’s a moment that forever defines us as Life Before and Life After.
For me, this moment came on October 29, 2008. I was whisked out of the fourth-grade classroom I was interning in and into a secluded office where my supervisor was waiting.
She didn’t have good news for me.
The teachers I was interning under had come to the decision they were not going to pass me. I was going to fail my internship. I was going to be a failure. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to think. I was sickened. I was distraught. I was embarrassed.
Here I was, a mere five weeks away from graduating with my degree in education. I was making plans for my post-graduation life. I was buying fun room decorations and gathering cute lesson plan ideas for my future classroom. I was excited, on the brink of a brand-new adventure: my first year of teaching. All my goals and dreams and thoughts of the future vanished in a moment I had never envisioned.
The failure hit me hard. For the next month, I walked around in a fog. I talked to professors and counselors about my next step but ultimately decided I couldn’t go through another internship.
So I changed my major to journalism and started the entire process all over again. I lost my scholarship and my financial aid. I started working again, part-time, at a place I never fully belonged. I tried to move on.
I was hoping I would find myself in the journalism world. Writing was a long-time passion of mine and I was excelling in my classes. I even scored an internship with a theater company where I had hoped I put my fear of failing to rest.
The next two and a half years were filled with classes, projects, and tests. My internship was easy, but didn’t push me outside my comfort zones. Through it all, I felt as if there was something missing. Something tangible, yet out of my reach. And I had no idea how to discover it. I didn’t have the tools, the knowledge, the self-awareness.
Fast forward to present day. I am a college graduate. I have a job in marketing. And every day I go to work, I wonder what the hell I am doing there. Don’t get me wrong, I am forever grateful to this company for taking in a fresh college graduate, but I have to believe there is more to life than this.
I have to believe I wasn’t created, with these words that are meant to be written, to simply sit at a desk, labeling file folders, proofing car ads and organizing advertising placements. I have to believe that if I was given an insatiable love of the written word, that there is a reason for it.
I have spent the last twenty-four years letting life happen to me. Twenty-four years of letting circumstances define me. Twenty-four years of letting my introverted nature keep me from attacking life the way I need to.
Physically, mentally, emotionally… I just can’t do it anymore. I cannot sit back and let opportunities pass me by because I’m too scared of what will happen if I fail. I let those teachers bulldoze right over me, not even asking for an explanation of why they were going to fail me and what I could have done better. I let my semesters as a journalism student pass by with no real attempt to become published because, oh God, what if I fail?
Fear is like quicksand. It wraps its suffocating arms around you and pulls you down. All you can do is try to keep your head above water and not let the fear completely break you. In doing so, we stay stuck. In our relationships, in our jobs, in our ways of living. We keep the fear at bay by not dipping our toes into the water, not causing waves, just being there but not really present or alive.
I cannot let the fear of failure consume me anymore. I have to stop letting that fear define my life and take me down roads I have no reason being on. I have to stop letting the societal pressures of what I should be doing now control me.
It’s time to finally jump into the unknown and seek out the opportunities that scare the pants off me. If I fail, I fail. I’ve been there before. I can pick myself back up again.
What if I let all those doubts crowding the ones that are cheering me on vanish? What if I stop worrying about failure, and start asking myself the real question: What if I succeed?
I wrote the above essay for Stratejoy, in my audition to become a Season 6 QLC blogger. I was not selected, but decided to post what I wrote here, because I firmly believe in these words. I was disappointed beyond belief to not have been selected, but I’m not letting that failure stop me from figuring out my QLC and how to dig myself out of it.