All the music that I had been practicing for weeks poured out of my brain and splashed on the floor. I was paralyzed until Mom came up and retrieved me. She took me back to my seat where I buried my face in her breast wishing I could disappear.
As I sat and watched G’daughter (teenager) struggle with homework this past weekend, I observed her paralysis from fear of failure and fear of embarrassment because she couldn’t do something. My first thought was that someone had taught her and I to fear failure. Then I realized that the opposite was true. Fear of failure is as natural as our need for love and belonging. It is not taught… it just is.
It’s interesting to look back at other times when I feared failing. The first time I had to make a presentation as part of a team project at work. At the last minute, I tried to back out, but the team would not let me. Then I started using a different (chickenshit) technique. Whenever I had to “perform”, I wouldn’t tell my friends, family, or coworkers just in case I embarrassed myself. So, when I was in a triathlon, I didn’t tell my friends or family…. Not even my kids… just in case I failed.
As it turned out, my performance events were successful (except for the piano recital). Over the years, I have successfully and comfortably spoken before audiences of 300 or more.
I now realize that I denied myself the pleasure of being comforted by friends and family when I fail and the joy of sharing my success.
So for my upcoming storytelling event, I have invited everyone.