Define success.

In my own eyes, it’s the achievement of a personal or interpersonal goal. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, success would be shedding those 20 pounds in the timeframe you set out to do it. Bada-bing bada-boom, you just completed a personal goal.

But interpersonal goals are different, because they rely not only on your actions, but the response of others towards your actions. For example, you want a long lasting romantic relationship. Well that sounds simple enough, you just need to find someone else who wants the same type of relationship as you, and hopefully that person will share common interests, etc. 

On paper, it really is that simple. But in real life, it’s like your facebook status said back in 2012: It’s Complicated…

Success as it relates Interpersonal goals requires other people to find value in what you offer. And that’s the scariest part. Because as people we’re inclined to be scared of rejection. 

The opposite of success is failure. And the fear of failure is the most common phobia mankind shares. 

Phobia Chart
The pie never lies…

 

But the fear of failure is a term that doesn’t do the real fear justice. It treats “failure” as if the act of losing is what we’re really all hyped up about. 

Picture this, let’s play a game, Connect 4. You pick yellow, and I pick red. Of course I go first, because duh – that’s what the rules are. But in Connect 4, the player with the first move has the highest chance of winning. “Why”, you ask? Because the center point on the board is the most valuable position, and you can only play it once. So of course I play it, because I want to win. And because ya boy is fire at Connect 4, I do win, and you lose. But when you lost, did you cry? Did you feel like a failure? No. Because the game wasn’t about that.

Crying meme
Unless you take Connect 4 really personally for some reason….

Now imagine, that same game of Connect 4, but this time, your parents are watching, your peers have their eyes locked in on you, the girl you’ve had a crush on for the past seven months is anxiously awaiting your victory, and the whole city has tuned in to IG live to watch you make the final play. And once again, you lose. Now, this trivial game of vertical checkers has turned into a spectacle of defeat. You lost. It’s at this point, your family disowns you, your peers throw their drinks at you, the girl you like laughs and your IG feed fills up with 💀 emojis. 

It’s at this point you feel like a failure. 

What’s the distinction though? You lost both games, but in the latter, the people you love and the people who you want love from turn their backs on you, shun you, and banish the very idea of you to the Shadow Realm. The pain is immense and perhaps makes you never want to play again for fear of failing. Or rather the fear of feeling unloved.

The fear of failure is the fear of being unloved masquerading around under a different name like its Donnie Brasco in the witness protection program.

Donnie Brasco
Donnie Brasco, world’s current hide and seek champion.

We don’t fear failure. Most of us don’t care if we lose at a game, a sport, or fail a class in school, or don’t get the job, or if even if our song doesn’t pop off like Old Town Road. We are scared of the perception of others who may look and laugh and tell us we’re worthless because we didn’t get that opportunity. And once someone treats you that way once, it scars you and prevents you from wanting to try again. The exposure of failure, and the embarrassment by others makes us feel unloved. 

And that fear of being unloved keeps us from being the best us. It keeps us from chasing dreams. It keeps us away from ourselves. 

Dreamchasers
This tape a classic, no debate.

As an artist, if God and Jimmy Iovine told you your song would go number one in the country tomorrow even though you’re just doing a limp cover of Baby Shark, you’d do it. Because you know you’d be pre-loved before you dropped the damn thing. When the love is guaranteed the fear of failure suddenly vanishes like a vampire in the mirror. 

But see, this fear of failure – or fear of being unloved – only intensifies the bigger your goals are. Being rejected in a one on one relationship hurts, but it only lasts so long before you recover. But take being an artist. You want your art out in the world, to be enjoyed by the world. Thats SEVEN BILLION chances of being rejected, overlooked, embarrassed, or laughed at. Suddenly, you fear failure. You fear all those faces, pointing, screaming, laughing at you. You’re Carrie at the prom. You’re Simba running from Pride Rock. You think they won’t love you anymore. You’re a disappointment. You’re a failure. And then you never try again.

The fear of failure is the fear of being unloved masquerading around under a different name like its Donnie Brasco in the witness protection program.

The easy thing to say is just “love yourself”. But that shit is a practice that no school teaches. And hell even your parents might not know how to do it either. 

I think the first step is to be brave, step out and do the thing you want to do. Take massive action, even on the little things. This is especially true for artists, because those are the people who put the most of themselves out to be judged, worthy or otherwise. Post that pic on the gram, but don’t look at the comments, they don’t matter. Make that video for Tik Tok, and ignore the likes. Keep going. You’ll learn to love yourself for doing what your heart desires, and people will learn to love you for being yourself, because you were brave enough to be you in the first place. 

And man. F*ck errybody else.

Forest Hills
“Deep down, every poet just wants to be loved” – J. Cole

 

Sidebar:

– Read this joint with “Smile” by Jay Z playing in the background, it hits different.

 

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