The first time I heard this quote from Theodore Roosevelt was at a Lindsey Stirling concert. She has a song called The Arena (based on this quote) and during her performance it was read. It was beautiful and indescrible. I found it here if you want to see it. And of course, when I first heard it, it meant something to me. But me being me I forgot about it for a while until I heard it again on the TV show Blue Bloods. They quote it often, which I am thankful for, as I need the reminder of the message behind the quote.
To me it is a reminder that as long as you try, you succeed. That failure is okay and acceptable. Oh God! Failure! The word alone makes me want to be ill. Screw up. Defeated. Broken. Disappointment.
I hate failure. I am terrified of it. In fact, it may be my worst fear I have. I need to be perfect. I need to get it right the first time. I can’t be wrong. The way the word sounds, is like it is meant to make you to be afraid and feel bad. Like a loser. Like you’re inept. Like you suck.
Won’t I miss out on opportunities if I fail? I have to get it right so I don’t miss out. I can’t miss out. If I fail what does it make me? I don’t want to be a loser. I want to be successful. Why can’t I figure out how to be successful? Why does it never work for me? Why does it hurt so bad? Will I still be loved? Blessed? Good? Will my life story be altered and ruined?
I’m literally petrified that failure will ruin my future. I suffer from mental illness (excessive guilt, anxiety, and depression) and I know it’s AT LEAST partly the cause of fears.
My anxiety constantly tells me I’m not good enough and if I fail I will no longer be whole. Or good. Or lovable. Or anything.
My depression comes in after the anxiety has stripped down my every emotion and feeling. That aching inside me starts and I just want to lay there and make it stop. That tightening in my stomach and back of my neck. The reminder I’ll never be anything, I’m not good enough, and I should just give up now. I’m a loser and I’ll never succeed.
The excessive guilt reminds me that I can do nothing right anyway. I am already unlovable and a failure. The fear of failure gives me anxiety which feeds right into my depression which causes my guilt and the cycle begins over and over again.
Why am I so scared of the difficult? Terrified that I’m taking the wrong step; doing the wrong thing. That being said, what if this fear of failure actually ruins my life? Because this fear makes me not want to do anything. Try anything. Be anything. What if it makes me want to take the easiest route possible so I have no chance of failing. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worth cause. I want to be the man (woman) in the arena. I mean, I don’t want to mess up, but isn’t the easy route, the less scary route, actually failure?
Maybe that is why I don’t date. I don’t want to screw up again. I don’t want to choose the wrong guy. I don’t want my heart to be broken again. It’s easier to not have anyone then to lose someone. Actually my desire to not date goes deeper than just the fear of failure (that is a post for a different time). But I don’t doubt that the fear of failing is a contributing factor.
I know this post has been pretty dark and gloomy and I really hate that, I just wanted to be honest, share my struggle and share inspiring quote from Teddy Roosevelt. Failure is okay. I want to fail. Ugh that just scares me to even type. I don’t actually want to fail, but I want to be okay with it. Like Theodore Roosevelt said if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
I don’t want to be a cold and timid soul. I want to at least accept my failure greatly. Confidently. To be brave and courageous. To know that those who actually care about me won’t stop loving me if I mess up and fail. I have to remember that. Failure is how you succeed and grow. It is how we become who we are truly supposed to be. Not comfort, free from screw ups.
Failure will more than likely not kill you or anyone else. Because it doesn’t mean doing risky, stupid things, such as, racing your car on the highway or doing drugs. What failure does mean is getting up and doing the difficult things. The scary things, like calling that guy you like back or continuing with blogging.
I have to learn that failure is okay. Failure is when we learn our most valuable lessons. Failure is how we have stories in the future and experience for our next adventure. I think I’ve made it very clear that I have not even come close to being okay with failure. In fact I am positively the worst at it. But at least I have made the decision to begin the journey to accepting failure. To have courage. I want to be the (wo)man in the arena who no matter what moves forward and when I fall and I get back up. No matter what.