How to defeat the Fear of Failure

Over the years, humanity has come to adapt to the fact that every man has what he fears and that it is normal for one to feel the emotions of fear at one point in life or the other. We see people in our communities having the fear of sicknesses, the fear of death, the fear of failing at school, the fear of losing contracts, customers or potential helpers and the fear of not having wealth, power or success in life. However, it was not so from the very beginning because man was not created to live in fear. Most times, I tend to classify that feeling called fear as an illusion of false emotions trying to appear real. Circumstances, society, family or oneself are what present this illusion before us and the best response to this illusion is to maintain a stable emotion.

I’ve heard so many students complain and pull out their hair wondering how they can scale through their academics and get good grades, how best they can present their theses papers, how best they can submit their applications for scholarships and what they need to do to graduate as the best in their cohort. Here are some tips I have for you:

  1. Do your best and do not compete
    “Why weren’t you the best in your class?”, “Does the best student have two heads?”, ” Why am I not good enough?”, “Medical school is tough, I can’t cope”, ” It’s been 80 years since we had a first-class in this department” and the list seems to go on and on.
    You might have grown up under this kind of atmosphere or mentality and now, you believe
    that for you to do well, you have to place yourself under pressure by competing. However, this has been proven not to be the best way for you to succeed in your academics as it doesn’t bring you out of failure but instead places unnecessary mental stress on you.
    Now, there should be a balance between your attitude of not trying to compete and being a
    useless loafer with your school work. Not competing here means that you strive to become
    the best version of yourself.
    For instance, at the beginning of an academic year, student A sets a goal of 80% for himself
    in a particular course while student B sets a goal of 60%. After the exams, student A gets a
    score of 76% while student B had 62%; they both did well but only student B achieved
    success. Student A failed because he had failed his expectations, B shouldn’t try to measure
    himself using A’s measuring scale because they both had different expectations. Likewise, to
    get rid of the fear of failure, stop measuring your achievements on other people’s scales, draw up a plan for the type of success you want for yourself and work towards it to the best of your ability. This is to ensure that you have no regrets at the end of it all.
  1. Take responsibility for your academics.
    “You can’t understand, I come from a broken home”, ” My lecturers just hate me”, “Our
    seniors told us that we cannot get a higher mark than 50%” and there goes a long list of
    excuses. So many students have used some of these sentences or something very similar to it. The first thing you must realise is that fear torments you; you get depressed, anxious and your peace is lost when you refuse to take responsibility for your academics. No one owes you anything, not your parents or your lecturers and the torment you face because of these excuses is not worth it. Although you might get the distinctions later, your mental health is not balanced anymore, all because you refused to take charge of your life. The end doesn’t justify the means instead, the means justify the end.
    You are the captain of your own life and this is definitely not me trying to downplay the
    effects some of these events might have in your life, but me guiding you towards the path of
    dissociating from past experiences and failures. These experiences might be yours, they
    might be that of people you love and respect and they might even be hear-says, whichever
    way, as a student who aims to deal with the fear of failure, you must actively take charge and
    cut yourself off from those stories of pathetic failure and set before you the type of beautiful
    results you want for yourself, write them down and work hard as much as you can towards it.
    Create pictures of greatness because your faith to succeed depends on it.
  2. Use your stones well.
    Some years back, a young boy who was a student of Anatomy was a well-known failure. He
    never seemed to do well in any of the assessments he took part in and even his nickname was
    ‘Failly’. This was a hopeless case – at least that was what everyone else saw but the boy never
    saw himself as a failure. Although he kept failing, his mantra remained, “We’re growing
    stronger”. On a fateful day, his seatmate asked him what his mantra meant and he smiled and
    said, “After every failure, I don’t feel defeated like everyone thinks, instead, this failure has
    opened up to me a better way for me to use my stones.”
    His seatmate grew curious about the ‘stones’ and asked him about them. Then, this boy
    explained that these stones were methods which he had discovered over time to work for him
    in his academics at all times and continuous usage of these stones had made him defeat the fear of failure in his mind countless times. He explained further that these stones vary per individual and what works for Tom might not necessarily work for Jerry. The young boy further explained that these stones might be learning to ask questions, setting a convenient reading schedule for oneself, reading extensively before engaging in discussions or learning how to remain calm. In all, it is seen as folly when you cannot associate yourself with the methods that can help you break the hold of failure in your academics but instead, insist on following others’ method because yours doesn’t look cliché or widely accepted. Discover your stones, hone them, make good use of them and see failure crumble before you like a pack of cards.

Dear reader, although these methods might not look like the ‘profound’ ways of dealing with
the fear of failure, but by virtue of use and experience, I can assure you that these tips will
help you take a quantum leap in your academics. I hope to hear about your victory in the
warfare against failure soon.

Oluwagbemisola Akinjobi

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