Being Noah Tesfaye #10: Why I Fear Failure

So initially, I was going to write about watching Get Out and what it reminded me about liberal racism and racist vs racially insensitive, but I decided to save that for next week. What I wanted to write about, or rather just vent to anyone is my fear of failure and not succeeding. I have been trying to understand for so long the consequences that I could face by not succeeding to the lengths that I truly believe that I can achieve and as a result that always gets in the way of me being able to achieve the great things that I want to do.

This idea isn’t anything new for me or anyone else like me who constantly lives depressed. I would like to think that for the most part I have a handle on these issues and can be comfortable living mostly positive everyday. But every once in a while, it slips. Yesterday was one of those days when I couldn’t get it to click. I kept missing one, two, three, four questions when doing practice reading passages for the SAT. Now usually, I am pretty confident in my ability to remain calm and be proactive with my ability to look intensely at my mistakes and be able to grasp how I can be better at working on my weaknesses. But for some reason, yesterday it all collapsed. I bombed a section of the practice reading and I couldn’t remain calm throughout, couldn’t read anything on the page, and began to panic. It was just a practice test. It didn’t count for anything. And yet for some reason, it was as if in that single moment, every single worry I had of not succeeding all came crashing down.

I believed in that single moment that it would all be over. The college dreams, the great SAT score, the law school aspirations, everything hinged on this single practice test. And when it didn’t go the way I hoped it would, I raged irrationally and for reasons that shouldn’t have happened. I blamed my brother for playing Xbox so loud when I could’ve just put on my noise cancelling headphones. I blamed my dog who wasn’t even barking, yet in my mind was. And most of all, I blamed the environment that I was in that allowed me to somehow not do as well as I wanted to in this situation. There was no reason for me to get upset from an outsider’s perspective. I have plenty of time to make up for this one misstep, and yet, I couldn’t think about it this way. All I saw was these mistakes and the end of it all. The past success, the optimistic future, was gone.

What I came to realize, with the help of my mom most of all, is that I truly am my worst enemy and the single person who can destroy everything I have going. I have been too petrified about the idea that when I fail, it would end everything that I’ve worked so hard to achieve. And the worst advice I always get that I find at first ludicrous is “relax.” As a young black teenager, I don’t feel like I can ever relax because I think there is no chance for me to make a mistake. But the truth is, that this advice, is kind of true. I feel like I’m trapped at every point in my life and in everything I do, but I have yet to look at what I have. I need to get rid of my attitude about not doing enough and failing with gratitude for the circumstances I have to succeed. I could have been my cousin in the countryside in Ethiopia with no chance of leaving home. I have the whole damn world at my fingertips and it is only about my effort and drive to get to where I want to go that is in the way.

So I need to step back for 2018. Every single time I feel like a failure, a piece of sh*t, a loser, worthless, I need to bring back everything into perspective. By no means is this a concession to stop working hard. Best believe that I will be working harder than I’ve ever done this semester and the rest of this year through apps. But I want to get back and see the big picture. I want to see and remind myself of why I’m working so hard and keep that as the main objective. And while it may weigh on me a bit more, it will remind me that I am only at the beginning of something I know will be special and that will change the world. I may not know completely what that thing will be, but I know that I can work as hard as possible AND be grateful for this one in a million opportunity I have to pursue my dreams. That’s my goal for this year. Now, I’ll go back to tackling that reading section productively and I’ll see you all the same time next week. Thanks for reading.

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