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Terrified to fail – Alessandra’s story

It is Sunday morning, quiet music is playing on my Spotify feed, a warm cup of tea is keeping me company and despite all this, somewhere in the pit of my stomach is this gut wrenching angst. My anxiety so palpable that it makes my chest hurt, my gut is in knots and I am crawling out of my skin. This is my journal entry for the day:

“… and then there are days like today, when the fear shows-up and my mind is filled with “what ifs”, the kind that eat at you from the inside like a parasite, leaving you tense, uncomfortable and trying to catch your breath one heavy sigh at a time.”

Terrified to fail – a child’s story

Ever since I was a child I have been terrified of failing. I don’t think many people realized it.  I appeared confident, outgoing and adventurous. This was an easy feat since I only engaged in things I knew I would be good at.

No chance of failing means no fear!

I couldn’t have explained it at the time, but what I know now is that I would not take part in any activity that I did not feel I could excel at. Today I understand where and why that fear emerged, but that is besides the point. What I can say, is that for years I held myself back from doing things that I really wanted to do, for fear of failing. I can’t do it was all I needed to say to let myself off the hook.

Growing out of insecurity

It took time, and a lot of practice, but I managed to challenge those insecurities. First, by understanding that my idea of failure was not absolute, but relative; failure meant not excelling and so I learned to appreciate and accept the notion of “good enough”. Second, by challenging myself to try the things I had avoided, thus realizing that my expectations and fears were often unfounded.

Most days that is enough… and then there are days when the fear shows-up and my mind is filled with “what ifs”, the kind that eat at me up from the inside leaving me tense, uncomfortable and constantly trying to catch my breath one heavy sigh at a time.

Days like today I will check in, and try to understand why these fears are coming up right now. I’ll examine my thinking: What are the facts? Am I seeing things as they are, or as I fear they could be? What I have discovered is that more times than not fear creeps up when I am doing something I truly care about, something that I would hate to lose or fail at.

I am glad I have grown stronger, that my insecurities have allowed me to know myself better, no hide from who I am or want to be.  My fear might be still show up once in a while, but at least I face it.

The price of a life in focus

Taking action has its costs. I could be disappointed, or fail. I might have to rethink my whole approach to something, but I also feel alive. When I act on the things I really need I feel fulfilled, focused and excited about my day. Fear is the cost of caring.

It is because my goals are a reflection of values/needs, and things that are so fundamental to me that they are essential. It is because they are essential that I can motivate myself to move beyond fear, past barriers and towards the things that matter.

Should I fail, I know that many decades from now, lying in my death bed I’ll be able to say: “I might have failed, but at least I tried, and wasn’t that grand,”.

Do I still fear failure? Sure I do!

Failing sucks. Failing is painful. Failing forces me to stop, re-evaluate my process, go back to drawing table and try again. At this point in my life I’m focusing on the things that really matter, and small setbacks, like utter failure, aren’t enough to make me give up on what’s right for me.

I doubt myself all the time, but what I don’t doubt is my resolve to figure it out, my ability to find a way and my grit.

Transitions and goals

[edit 2017] I’ve continued to work pretty diligently on my fear of failure. I’ve watched wrap itself in the cloak of reason and prudence. I’ve caught it manifesting as diligent focus on unimportant things. I’ve stayed alert and always willing to challenge it and today I can honestly say I’m not afraid to fail.

Let me repeat that. I. am. not. afraid. to. fail. 

Which doesn’t mean I still don’t think it would suck to fail. I just don’t associate failure with my self-worth or value.

Ultimately, I figure I have time, a working brain, a vast pool of knowledge and some damn good systems to help me get to where I want to go. The only way I could fail is by not trying, and I’ve already succeeded at that goal.

If you’re ready to take a chance, make a change, say f#*k-you to your fear of failure, your insecurities and your excuses then I want to let you know that I am right here ready to cheer you on and help you out.

You can start by checking out the LīF HUB right here on this site. Grab your 30 FREE pass HERE, try it out and see how easily facing your fears and checking-in with yourself can get you on the path to a life where failure just isn’t an option anymore.

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Hi! I'm Dr. Alessandra Wall

I help smart driven women and forward-thinking companies bridge the gap & build real conversations.

Here on the ‘Dr. Wall Says’, I share tools, tips, and insights about speaking up, getting heard and how women can take up space and thrive in the 21st century.



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