If anyone asked me what some of my biggest fears are, the five that immediately come to mind are: Snakes, clown, the ocean, silent darkness, and failure. Depending on the context of the conversation or experience before the questions is asked, the order for this answer varies. For example if I was at a birthday party and saw a clown making balloon animals, clowns would the first fear that came to mind. Or if I was at the beach and the ocean was in front of me, then I would say the ocean first.
But being the over imaginative, overthinker that I am, the one day I thought about what my Boggart would be. For those who don’t know, a Boggart is an amortal shape shifting non-being that takes on the shape of a person’s worst fear. If you’re a fan on the Harry Potter series, you’ll remember the scene from The Prisoner of Azkaban where Professor Lupin is teaching Harry’s class how to defend themselves against a Boggart. Being a Harry Potter fan and a believer in the Supernatural (to some extent, I don’t believe everything), one day I was thinking- If I came across a Boggart, what would my worst fear be? And after quite a bit of thinking, I realized it would be failure.
So you might ask- Why is failure your biggest fear? To me, the answer is simple: Because all my other fears I can avoid, but failure is a fear that is completely unavoidable. Let me explain: If I don’t want to possibly encounter a snake, I won’t go anywhere snakes can be found, or if I’m somewhere that has snakes (like a pet store or a zoo) I can avoid the section that has snakes. Clowns are also avoidable (though with the amount I’ve dated in the past, I’m not so sure about that). The ocean (though I live in Florida) is something I can observe from afar, safely on a beach. As long as I’m not too close to it, I’m fine. Silent darkness can be combatted by with something that makes noise (like a fan, humidifier, ambient noise, etc) and a nightlight (in my case our fish tank serves as the nightlight). So I can easily combat or avoid all those other fears, but failure isn’t so easy to combat or avoid. It’s always there, lurking in the shadows, unseen and waiting to strike.
I also thought about all the times failure of the thought of failure prevented me from pursuing an opportunity or from at least attempting to try for that opportunity. The amount of times I’ve been scared of clowns, snakes, the ocean, and silent darkness don’t even come close to the amount of times failure scared me into not taking an opportunity and allowed myself to be held back. So my Boggart would be seeing all my education and hard work go to waste and never achieving my full potential.
I know every single one of us faces the possibility of failure on a daily basis in some way, shape or form. For some, the failure could be getting rejected by the person you like or getting a bad grade on a test. For some, failure could be getting overlooked for that promotion they wanted or not getting into the college or university of their choice (been there and that one really stings). Failure could be a small setback or a huge setback, but I don’t think it matters which it is- what matters is having the support you need to get back on your feet and having the courage to continue on despite the failure you had.
Honestly, if it wouldn’t be for having the amazingly, supportive fiancée I have, my last big failure would have made me quit writing altogether because in my mind, it proved that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was and that I would never be good enough. But thanks to him (and also partially thanks to my constant stubbornness), I realized that though this failure was hard to deal with, I could overcome it and eventually something better would come along, and something has, but there is still chance I could fail at it… and that scares me.
I don’t want to fail. That is my biggest fear. For me, failing means I’m not living up to my full potential and when I’m not at my best, I’m not good enough for anything. Failing means I can’t provide for myself or my family, which means financial and emotional hardships. Hardships can cause things to start to fall apart and open the gate for anxiety, depression, and harmful thoughts to waltz in and take up space in my mind and home. And I know the combination of anxiety, depression, and harmful thoughts has the ability to paralyze me and keep me under a black cloud of despair for as long as it please or until I finally some way to snap out of it (which has proven to be anywhere from weeks to months to even years with very few good days during that time). So in my mind, failure is the absolute worst thing that could happen. I’m almost like Hermione in the sense that expulsion would be worse than death (because expulsion would be seen as failure where death is something that happens to all of us at some point in our lives and that’s even more unavoidable than failure). Plus, out of failure or death, I’ve gotten a bit better about handling death, mainly because I’ve had quite a few people in my life die over the last 13 years and also because of the beliefs I’ve begun to develop over the years (which I won’t get into in this post). So maybe it seems strange that I fear failure more than death, but I’ve begun to realize that my brain doesn’t always make sense and I’m just trying to work through it as best as I can!
But that’s why failure always sets me back- Because in my mind, failure will always lead to more issues down the road. I don’t think I’ve ever had the ability to just look at a failure, big or small, and accept it and move on. I think there’s always been tears, self deprecating talk, and anxiety and depression for a period of time afterwards. Even when I was younger, if I failed at something, I was harder on myself than anyone else. One time in grade school I got a B+ on a spelling test (I used to have trouble remembering how to spell eleven and a few other numbers). Though my parents were proud of my good grade, I wasn’t. I was so used to getting As on my spelling tests that seeing that B+ felt shameful. And if I remember correctly (which I may or may not because I was really young), I think this was the time I punished myself from doing anything fun until I got my grade up. Thinking back on this makes me laugh a little because it’s funny and also, I feel kind of bad for my parents. I was such a pain in the ass when I was a child when it came to certain things and none of us have any idea where it all stems from. So mom and dad, if you’re reading this, sorry for being such a pain in the ass for some unknown reason!
Fear is an interesting thing because no two people have the same exact same fears for the exact same reasons. All our fears stem from somewhere, some known, others unknown. I haven’t fully pinpointed where my fear of failure comes from, but the one I know is that I need to work through that fear. Because if I continue to all failure to set me back and send me on a downward spiral every time it happens, I won’t ever accomplish anything and all I’ll have to look back on is a whole lot of regret and what ifs. I don’t want that to be my life, so failure, we’re going to war with one another and this time, I’m going to come out victorious. Because I am tired of being set back by you and having you take over my life. It’s time to change my Boggart into something I can laugh at.
What would you Boggart be if you faced one? Is your biggest fear one that is easy to combat/overcome? Or is it one like mine where it’s unavoidable and you just have to deal with it when it comes? And if you have any advice for how to not let failure set us back, please let me know in the comments! Your advice could be what me or someone else needs to hear! I hope everyone has a successful week!