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Fear of Failure

I’m going to sound like a total ‘door handle’ (my child friendly version of ‘k*ob’) and say that even though I’ve run 11 marathons (7 of those back to back in a week) and 4 ultra-marathons (the shortest was 54 miles), as well as half marathons and goodness, knows how many OCRs since I started my mid 30’s fitness crisis 3 years ago, I feel like I’ve not achieved anything that I’m really proud of in my life.  In my opinion, I don’t deserve to feel proud because I feel like I’ve pretty much coasted and ‘got lucky’ most of my life.   Yes, I go to the gym and have what I’d call an average level of fitness but my general attitude of ‘it’ll be fiiiiine!’ and pratting about like a mud-covered, wannabe unicorn clown has gotten me through pretty much most things, not quickly or with any finesse but never the less I’d got to the end point so that’s all that matters right?  Hmmm… there’s been this niggle the whole time that I probably could’ve done much better if I’d tried even just a little bit more, so I have this guilt that I’m pulling the wool over people’s eyes when they go ‘oh wow, you did that!’.   I’ve not cheated or lied about doing those things at all.  It’s because I don’t feel that I’ve really given it my absolute all so, I can’t accept the reward of praise for it.  I don’t put it on Strava (did it even really happen then?) because I don’t want the World to see that I could’ve done better if only I wasn’t too scared to try my best in case I failed completely.

And there it is.  Too Scared To Try My Best For Fear Of Total Failure.  Better to be just be good enough rather than put my heart and soul into it and fail totally.  I feel that I’ve been lucky that I’m reasonably academic and was OK at sports stuff so never really had to try hard at school so everything was always just good enough.  I was always scared to try be the best or to try and be first because firstly, what if my absolute best is not good enough and I utterly failed and let people down?  Secondly, if by some sheer miracle I succeeded, would there be this expectation of something even bigger and better which I’d not be able to deliver and really fail and let even more people down?  Total coward or what?

2016 was insane work wise and running/ racing/ doing an event-wise.  If I wasn’t at work I was at an event.  Work was intense.   I was on call so much that I even joined a gym across the road so that I’d only be 2min away if my pager went off.  The weekends I wasn’t at work I pretty much had an event booked which we also treated as family time.   Event-wise, I had an insane schedule because I’d not checked dates, bought a season pass and then committed to dedicating these events to fundraising.  My friend was running a minimum of a marathon a month for a year in memory of a dear friend of his.  I’d said I’d run with him for moral support at the same events we had booked and then I came up with the brilliant idea of running 7 marathons in 7 days for the finale challenge in Dec.  Seeing as I had somehow managed to talk him into thinking my stupid idea was the best idea ever, I felt I owed it to him to do that challenge with him as well.  I did everything I’d committed to doing despite being exhausted because I didn’t want to let all those people who had donated to my fundraising down but I don’t feel like I did them as well as I could or gave them my best efforts because it was easier to be good enough rather than go all out and risk total failure.  I did fail at one of my fundraising challenges, The Unknown which is 36hr SAS selection style event.  I wanted to stop and go to sleep in the sand 20hrs into the 36hrs.  I was pulled out and I beat myself up over that because even though the medics said it was hypothermia, to me I wanted to stop and I wanted to lie down, i.e. I gave up.   Apparently, that’s what happens with hypothermia.  I’ve kind of accepted it and it gave me a different experience of The Unknown 2017 but I’ll tell you about that another time.

So the purpose of my self-indulgent waffling is this, I have a cheeky 6yr old Little Beastie, who incidentally, is the one thing that I can hand on heart say is the ‘Best Thing I’ve ever made/done’ and she is something I will always give my absolute all to because coasting is not an option when it comes to her.  I don’t always get it right but I give it my best and try to learn from the mistakes.  Beastie is my pride and joy.  I want to spend all my time with her because she’s utterly hilarious, a real cutie pie and she gives out the best cuddles but I can’t spend all my time with her because I have to go to work and she has to go to school.  I’m fiercely proud of her and I want her to be proud of herself too.  I tell her it’s perfectly ok to be scared and it’s ok to fail at stuff.  I tell her all the time it doesn’t matter what other people think, as long as she tries her best then she can always feel proud and never feel like she’s letting people down.  I want to be an example for her so it’s high time this Mama started practising what she preaches. I need to stop making excuses, there will be some pratting about because it’s actually quite fun and the photo evidence can be brilliant (read hilariously dodgy) but I will do it to have fun, not as a way of deflecting my fear.   I’m looking at certain events next year because I want to do them but I don’t want to give just ‘good enough’ effort anymore.   I’m still terrified that I’m going to fail but I’ve promised myself that I’m going to really try to fail or not.   After all, Little Beastie is a product of what my best can achieve and even if I do say so myself, she’s pretty flipping EPIC!



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