My remedy for Fear of Failure
Fear of failure was the biggest stopping power in the course of my progress, and that includes most activities that i have and often exercise, from design to development to drawing to calligraphy to music and especially to group activities. I used to blame that on my introverted nature, but in reality i learned that with some effort and a bit of trust, i can be on the opposite side of introversion, and it feels great when i do. It is the fear to fail that was getting me into these ridiculous situations when i purposely tried to skip new activities even when it came to activities with friends who I've known for years and years. In short-term this is nothing serious, however, in long-term I've missed on so many things and so many skills and assets that i could have been much better at by now. A failure would still result in experience of some kind, what results of doing nothing? Sadness.
I did that a lot, not only did i have to find an excuse for the outside world, i also had to convince myself that skipping this or that is good for me, it’s a safeguard of my comfort. Excuses are the main things i found that were holding me back, excuses were also the most difficult to fight against, it’s so easy to make up an excuse for anything and just go with it. It becomes a casual thing, kind of like how some can just call a sick day from work when they just don’t feel like going to work. But all comes to an expense, and you just wait until your conscience start eating you from within because you know you are being dishonest and this is perhaps going to cost you a day of bad mood and few nights of insomnia, symptoms that usually tell you that you are doing it wrong. Turning down opportunities and activities will not make you happier; it’s a paradox, when you think that you did it for your own comfort, so why does it not make you feel happier in the end?
Practice what you preach
Have you ever been that guy who gives good advice? I’ve often been that guy, at least if i quote my friends i was, I've also made quite a few new friends with that. Half of those advises would apply to me too, i was going through the same things, but i was too concerned to break the “balance” of my life with new changes, because changes are scary. Looking back at those days, this balance was more like an absence of gravitation towards anything, it was a still-motion, a void where nothing is happening and nothing will happen, unless i started practicing what i preached. And so i did, i started with the scariest, most dynamic and unpredictable thing that i could imagine back then:
The one place where i felt comfortable, cozy, “balanced”, deciding exactly what’s going to happen, or better said — what’s not going to happen today, was my apartment. It was my bastion, with my own rules, where nobody could interfere with my plans (absence of plans really). In a few words, it was holding me back, so i started what i call “retreating”. The idea of a retreat is simple — find a good Airbnb spot not very far away, drop the minimum amount of equipment that you need there and move in for a few days or a week. Changing the scenery was really doing miracles to the way i think and the way i work. There were no longer the casual distractions, the usual day-to-day setup and habits, the fridge, the cats, etc. Every retreat was like a new page, with minimal clutter, rules and setup, and maximum focus and a will to embrace these kind of changes and even go beyond that. I was now eager to explore further so i booked flights to Sweden and back. I was going to stay in a small town called Skövde for a gaming event.
I stayed in Sweden for about a week, balancing my time and resources between the event i was attending during that week, and work that i was doing back at the hotel. To my standards, these changes were insane, and while it felt like chaos for a day or two, taking in consideration i had 3 flights and a train to get to where i was staying, i never felt more inspired. What seemed impossible before, was shaping right there during this travel. The barriers that were holding me back were gone, i realized that the “comfort” i was protecting so much before, was just an illusion, a pest, a parasite.
P.S. Swedish licorice candy tastes horrible
In a month after that trip i traveled to Madrid, where i stayed at a friends place for a week. I started liking the change of scenery more and more, it felt refreshing with every new journey, it made me more open, more willing to take on new opportunities and more productive. Needless to say i booked more trips, i went for a very last-minute trip to Vienna, where i rented a room in an apartment with 3 students, one from Austria, one from Germany, one from Greece, it was amazing, we were having dinner together and talking about travelling and countries and art, those were social experiences i will never forget, i even had a nearly 100 year old piano in my room.
Another last-minute travel i took that year was to Saint Petersburg, i really liked the fact that i had nearly no time to prepare before the trips, just pack a few things and a few gadgets and call a taxi to the airport. I stayed for two weeks in Russia, with lots of walking around, exploring the metro stations and the city, trips with a boat under bridges and venturing to the little suburb towns with beautiful parks and palaces. And all that while still being able to put in about 7 hours of work every day as well as some side projects and research.
My travelling experience was not ideal, with a few struggles and a few fails, especially in the very beginning, but i learned a lot every time. I learned that people are eager to help if you make the effort of approaching and asking them, that change is good and comfort is not always good, that you can do more with less, that travelling will affect you, and change you, and shape you, and show you who you really are, and give you a hint about your real potential. It will make you fearless and it will feel good, i promise.