Fear, Uncertainty, and Failure

(It’s exam period here in university-land and the lack of sleep  has gotten me a little loopy, which lead me into a pit of self-reflection. I thought a lot about fear and failure, so I’m going to bring you on that journey with me)

Here’s something you have to understand: I’m over- emotional,  cripplingly sentimental, and painfully indecisive. Despite all this, I like to convince myself and others that I have my life nicely put together. Being vulnerable can make me feel weak, so admitting that I’m feeling anything other than perfectly okay is hard. I have a million bundles of hearts on every exposed part of my body and I get hurt so easily, but it’s easier to pretend I’m indifferent.

I have found, however, that this has caused me to live in a way that is disingenuous to who I am. It has stopped me from pursuing things I love and lead me down paths that I have ultimately “jumped ship” from, because I realized it was leading to a life that I didn’t want.

I’ve switched career plans so many times. I started out wanting to be an author, which is something I still really want, but as someone with so many interests I realized I wanted to get an education and live a life, and then write about it.

In school, the idea that got stuck in my head was that smart people major in science. I loved animals so I drew up this great plan about how I was going to major in zoology then save the tigers and elephants. I later realized that I liked the idea of being around the animals more than actually learning biology. After this, I think my problem was looking up career opportunities based on who was hiring and what the salary was, and then I went for the relatively safe bet of speech language pathologist. The problem is, I have a passion for so many things, but I didn’t have a passion for this career that I had so carefully planned out for myself.

Through this jumble of figuring out what I wanted to be (otherwise known as high school), I didn’t get involved at all. I showed up to clubs and extra-curriculars then found a reason why I wasn’t going to go back, even if it was something I really liked.I had so many doubts and fears that can simply be summed up by this question: what if I found a career path I was attached to and realized it would never work out?

I made up for this lack of involvement by getting involved in online communities and, through this, passion found a way of sneaking up on me. I was in grade twelve and I found that I was slowly being molded into a person I was proud to be. I had opinions, talents, and drive to make change in the world. I found myself falling in love with politics, wanting to be a leader, and looking for ways to help people. Nearing the end of grade twelve I changed my major for the upcoming year from Linguistics to Political Science, and I was scared.

I would say that I have effectively stumbled through first year. I came to the first day of classes knowing very little about politics. For the first time, I didn’t have a set five-year or ten-year plan. A lot of my year has been me trying to find things to get involved in, having new opportunities, and stressing out. I think I lost myself for a little while in a pit of anxiety, but I clawed out, brushed myself off, and found new things to try. I’ve gone to events and activities even if I couldn’t find someone to go with me, I’ve applied to opportunities even if I thought I might be rejected, and I’ve come to terms with the uncertainty that comes with following my passion. There’s not a giant sign with a definite dream job at the end of my university journey, but there’s so much room for me to learn and build myself and find opportunities in a field I actually like.

I hate uncertainty and not knowing where my life is headed. I hate knowing that I might fail something. I hate the idea of not being liked or not being good enough. I hate putting my heart into something and admitting that I care, because then someone can so easily hurt me and failures become even more apparent. Success has so often been measured by knowing exactly what you want to do, and I don’t have that any more. Instead of having a path, I now feel like I’m free falling. And I’m terrified. But I’ve come to be more comfortable in this place of uncertainty, because it’s better to acknowledge that I’m afraid and move past that rather than play it safe and not be the person that I want to be. Acknowledging that has opened my life up to so many opportunities. So here I am at the end of first year, unsure of where my life is headed and shaky as a leaf, but still feeling more sure of myself than I ever have before.

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