I am afraid of failure. I took several deep breaths as I typed that out. 1) Even thinking of the “F” word has my heart skipping several beats. And 2) It feels a little intimidating to have my first blog post be about a topic that makes me uncomfortable. Well, I set a goal in 2018 to launch this blog by spring, and it is now the beginning of a brand new year. That is what the fear of failure will do. You procrastinate. It feeds your inner critic and self-doubt.
Let’s start from the beginning:
My personal fear of failure has roots in perfectionism. As I child, I developed this profound desire to always do things right, which I attribute to my days of being bullied. For every insult or form of rejection I received, I found myself striving to compensate for the things that I felt I lacked. I would focus on areas that couldn’t be the subject of ridicule, like being intelligent or my creativity. I was always that student going above and beyond on a class assignment or project, which is evident now in my graduate school days. To be real, just the mere thought of doing less than a stellar job on a task puts me on edge. I felt validated by my achievements. I was also raised in a Nigerian family, so naturally, success often feels like the only option.
My fear of failure is the reason why I put this blog on the backburner for so long. How can I incorporate healthy haircare, plant-based living, and my love for Christ into one website? I’ve been a hair blogger for over five years but covering new topics that I am passionate about seemed daunting. Does this change even make sense? Will people actually read this blog? What if it fails? So I made excuses, hesitated, procrastinated, and set deadlines that I never met…when God just wanted me to start. Yet, there is also another “F” word that is more powerful than fear, and that is the gift of faith. Here are three lessons I learned in 2018 about overcoming my fear of failure with faith:
1. Stop making excuses, sis.
Yup. This one was a hard pill to swallow. Most excuses are the result of the fears we have–whether it’s the fear of making mistakes, the fear of uncertainty or success, or even in my case, the fear of failure. I am currently a full-time graduate student taking on a part-time assistantship to cover my tuition. I’m also a first-generation college graduate and the first to pursue a Master’s in my family. I’m wearing many hats, and I get overwhelmed. Those were some of the “reasons” I had to hold off my blog. I often wondered this year how other part-time bloggers could manage all of their responsibilities and still make time to blog because it just seemed impossible to do.
Two key characteristics stood out to me regarding their habits: they had a consistent work ethic and prioritized their projects. They showed up when it mattered. Here I am thinking of every excuse in the book as to why I can delay launching this blog when God gave me the resources to do the work. If He can carefully sew me in my mother’s womb for nine months or create the Earth in six days, what makes me think I cannot spend at least one hour of my day working on a project?
We can stop making excuses when we actively step forward in faith. We put faith into action by boldly pursuing the task that God has placed in our hearts to do. Hebrews Chapter 11 gives clear illustrations of faith in action from the example of Abel and his offering to Moses’ leadership. Even on the days that seemed the most difficult or emotionally taxing, I will choose to show up knowing that God has already met me at those hard places. And when I decide to meet Him halfway, I can then serve Him wholeheartedly (Colossians 3:23-24).
2. Growing in faith means getting out of my own way.
In facing my fear of failure, I realized two more attributes about me. One is that I am my biggest stumbling block. I have spent years cutting myself down and doubting my abilities. As a result, I end up getting in the way of the things I want. After a near mental breakdown in grad school a few months ago, I had a professor tell me that I see certain issues narrowly at times. It immediately reminded me of what happens when we have so little faith: we fail to embrace the bigger picture.
Also, I realized that I am extremely results-driven. In other words, I’m a hu$tler. So if I don’t see progress or something going smoothly, I freak out. Ironically, I was so afraid of this project failing that I took forever to finish it. But throughout His word, God works through processes. Proverbs 3:5-10 expounds upon this. Getting out of my own way meant trusting Him with both the process and the outcome. That means I focus on effort and staying the course knowing that He is carefully working behind the scenes.
3. God is my greatest accountability partner.
How is God my accountability partner? Because I have His word that instructs and guides me. I hardly need a reason to start something that is rooted in purpose or one that further glorifies the kingdom of God; I need only to start. If you feel that you need to find a valid reason to jumpstart a project, then it’s worth considering if you have fears that are getting in the way of doing that. It’s so important that as disciples of Christ, we can properly discern God’s voice from that of the enemy. Is the voice that you hear edifying you or is it overly critical? Is it encouraging or discouraging? Does it reassure you or cause you to second-guess yourself? Compare what you are hearing to God’s written Word. Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” And also, communicate (pray) about it. His word will never condemn you and His voice will never contradict Scripture.
If you have been called to do something, then He will make room for you to do it. So, I’m overcoming my fear of failure by finally sharing this website in my corner of the Internet that He has provided for me.
Welcome to my new blog, friends! I hope you stay awhile.