A woman in a grassy plain petting a tiger

I like to think back to the time, about 10 years ago, when I started my first blog. I was in high school in the prime of my teenage years—aspiring to be a great writer-turned-poet, insecure as you could ever imagine and forging my way on the internet (after school) to find a home for my words.

Well, I found it. Much to my surprise, it was a blog. Yes, I had a secret blog. I signed up for Blogspot when I was 17 years old. Boy, my website was mediocre at best, but I loved it!

It became a secret writer’s life for me—a hidden space to log my style day-to-day and to share my passions, thoughts, poetry and photography. I didn’t want to tell anyone that I had my own blog because I was already being bullied at school by other girls. There was no way my confidence could carry me through to the door of actually sharing it with anyone I knew, even my closest friends.

I was scared. I was also wildly insecure and didn’t even want to think about what my peers would say at my school. I hated the idea of my name being spoken on other people’s lips.

All the thoughts of fear flooded my mind. What if my writing is not good enough? What if I’m a laughing joke? What if I don’t succeed at writing? What if…

Years later, I discovered this was my first experience with the fear of failure. It came down to the basics. I didn’t want to share with anyone because I was deathly afraid of failing at writing. Who would’ve guessed that years later this scared little teenage girl would push past her fear of failure and hit the “send” button on her first published column.

Let me tell you. It was not an overnight transformation. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is self-confidence.

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is self-confidence.

There was no “ah-ha” moment that slammed me in the face. It was years of little moments that built me up to be the confident, strong-willed woman with no fear holding her back that I am today. I spent several years as a ghostwriter before I came out of the shadows to share my own work.

Ghostwriting just felt easy. No pressure—like a shield that protected me from judgment. I knew, at some point, I needed to take that step into the spotlight with my writing, but before I did that, I had to do some major self-work and confront my fear of failure.

I met my fear with vulnerability.

I leaned into the discomfort of being scared. I pulled up a chair to sit down at the table of vulnerability, and I let myself feel it. With tears streaming down my face, I acknowledged the fear, talked about it, shared it with others and allowed myself to fully express that emotion.

With tears streaming down my face, I acknowledged the fear, talked about it, shared it with others.

I realized I was holding it all in and suffering with this fear all by myself. By embracing the fear, I said hello to it, took a moment with it and, then, decided that enough is enough.

I met my fear with self-love.

What made this fear of failure rear it’s fiery head was my lack of self-love and confidence. This fear of failure I developed from a young age was the symptom, not the problem. I realized that I needed to flip the switch on the extensive and negative self-talk that was happening in my mind causing these fears to come up.

Throughout several years, I attended self-love workshops, worked with motivational speakers, prioritized my health and practiced meditation and journaling my gratitudes every day. I also threw myself into therapy to help develop self-love. I incorporated these techniques, and I started waking up with a different stride.

For anyone facing fear of failure, repeat after me: What is the worst thing that can happen?

This will always be the most powerful question I ask myself when the fear of failure arrives throughout my career. Once my foundation of confidence was not set in the work I did, this question wasn’t debilitating. It didn’t give me anxiety, and it didn’t cause me to spiral into that dark black hole of “what-ifs.” This question was a game-changer. It put things into perspective and made publishing or pitching my work less intimidating.

Once my foundation of confidence was not set in the work I did, [the fear of failure] wasn’t debilitating.

Now, I approach my writing career with an entirely new outlook than I had when I was just starting out. I know, at the end of the day, that my thoughts, my words and my passions have the ability to add value and human connection in this world.

This journey to get here was long. I went through a complete mind-body evolution to grow my confidence and face these fears head on. Now, I look at myself in the mirror and love every inch of the woman staring back at me. A woman with no fear is the most terrifying and beautiful creature to behold.

Have you ever struggled with a fear of failure? In what practical way can you begin to pick that fear apart?

Image via Colette de Barro, Darling Issue No. 12

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  1. My fear has been/is holding me back from being seen and heard. Everything that you mentioned is exactly what I experience with. After reading this, I feel less alone and understand that this is very much a human experience. Thank you for sharing this and reminding me to meet my fear with vulnerability.

    1. Rachel! Thank you so much for leaving such a kind note. Yes, you are so not alone in that experience. We are glad that Kara’s words resonated with you.

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