My senior year of college, I had the opportunity to interview for a fellowship that would allow me to pursue graduate studies in Europe. It was my wildest dream come true! Getting it meant everything to me. In my mind, it was the only thing that would give me the life I had always wanted, and I had to get it.
Have you ever wanted something that badly? The perfect job, partner, house, opportunity, etc presents itself, and you become sure that nothing else will do?
In that moment, one of two things will happen, you will get it (whatever it is), and you will either be right or wrong about the change it makes in your life OR you won’t get it, and you have to figure out how to move forward.
I didn’t get the fellowship. In fact, I was so nervous and put myself under so much pressure that during the interview, the conference table full of business men watched as I tried to pour myself a glass of water and instead spilled it everywhere!
I was crushed and humiliated. I told myself I should have known I couldn’t get something that amazing. Who did I think I was? I was just some fat, clumsy girl who would never get my PhD or study in Europe.
I made my failure mean all those things for several years. Instead of applying to any graduate schools in Europe, I applied for and went to the easiest program in my state. I wanted to believe in myself, but every time I was tempted to stretch for something awesome, I would remind myself how humiliating it was to lose the fellowship, and I would retreat.
I played it safe and told myself it was better to be content with what I had than to risk throwing myself out there like that again.
Do you know what that attitude did for me? If you’re playing it safe right now, then you do know.
You know that while I got by and did okay for myself, I also knew deep down that I could do so much more if I could just DROP THE FEAR OF FAILURE. I was ashamed for feeling scared and too scared to do anything about it. It was a vicious cycle.
In those days, I only put myself out there if I was 100% sure of success—just like the women in the study I wrote about last week.
Does my story resonate with you?
Do you live your life in fear of failure and frequently talk yourself out of taking risks?
Next week in Part 3, I’ll let you know how I turned it all around and started taking risks and believing in myself again.
Until then, much love!