I want myself to fail — it’s easier

When I was 21, I turned down a big, career making job in Public Relations for an industry group here in Sydney. It was a job that would have made me a success, with a big salary and a nice office, and a fair bit of prestige — particularly because I was so young.

I turned down the job for a bunch of different reasons that I’d made myself believe were true. I didn’t like that career path, I didn’t think it would challenge me enough, etc. But the real reason I turned it down?

I didn’t want to deal with the possibility that I could screw up. The worst version of myself, that asshole, convinced me that it was better to refuse a great job than risk failure.

How crazy does that sound? Looking back, I still can’t believe I made that call, and I can’t quite understand what was going through my head, apart from that insidious whispering, that voice telling me not to bother.

I haven’t been to the gym in a couple weeks now — life gets in the way, and with temperatures in the morning approaching zero, it’s been a major problem.

Every night, I lay out my gym clothes, my towel, my water bottle. And every morning, the worst version of myself rationalizes a way for me to stay in bed. It’s as predictable as it is frustrating.

I often have a similar experience when I’m working creatively, or building a new project. I’m never competing against the other people working in my space, or building similar products, I’m competing against myself. It’s been the same with my career.

I constantly struggle against the urge to fuck up. I constantly struggle against the worst version of myself, knowing that no matter how hard I try to do anything, there’s always a part of me rooting for failure.

That part of me knows how much easier failure really is. That part of me knows that if I just stopped trying and caring and hoping and dreaming, I could settle into a comfortable pattern of Xbox, Netflix, work and pizza.

That part of me knows that I’m always one wrong move away from failure, and it wants to push me towards it, with everything its got.

It takes the form of this asshole voice that I live with all the time, constantly telling me to quit, walk away, give up and give in. It sounds kind of like Alan Rickman as Professor Snape and it tells me everything I do is pointless.

It’s incredibly hard to compete against that, because there’s never going to be a moment where I know I’ve won. It’s a lifelong struggle, and I’ll never be free from it. There’s no rest and no respite. But I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

That asshole voice pushes and tests me, all the time. It tests my resolve, and it questions my underlying assumptions. It makes me ask myself what the fuck I’m doing, and analyze where I’m at, and where I’m going.

Because I have this voice that constantly works against me, there’s an antidote to my own hubris, arrogance and pride. Knowing how to handle it now, and knowing that it exists and I have to be aware of it and watch out for it, keeps me on my toes.

I’ve come to grasp that it’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s maddening, and it puts me in constant danger of just throwing in the towel, but it’s also an intrinsic part of me.

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