The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Achieving success requires overcoming fear of failure

By Charity Montieth/reporter

I let out a shrill scream of terror when a spider comes within five feet of me, and the sight of a nurse with a medicine-filled syringe leaves me quivering in panic. These are fears I have no problem displaying in public.

But I have kept one phobia a quiet secret until now: my fear of failure. I’d rather be vaccinated by a giant swarm of tarantulas than fail. That’s how deep my fear of failure is — or was.

But at some point, we all have to face our fears, and getting a college education has helped me do exactly that.

I started at TCC in 2005. After a series of crummy jobs in retail management, I was determined to find a career I could love. I had worked out this little degree plan in my head. I’d take on a full course load, all year, including summer and minimesters. In doing so, I figured I could obtain my four-year degree in three.

In class, I was a maniac. I was that one person you hate, you know, the one who answers every question and gets mad over a 98. I took on extra-curricular activities that required several hours a week. And I had a part-time job, a husband and a daughter. I was Superwoman, and I could do it all flawlessly — or so I thought.

I can’t say that no one warned me about taking on too much because nearly everyone did, my husband, counselors, advisers, professors. I just didn’t listen.

It started to unravel slowly. But it pretty much fell apart in one semester, which I equate to hell, with algebra, a Spanish 2 course, a literature class requiring a new novel every week and an online computer class that was entirely too technical for my liking.

One little thing I forgot to factor into the equation — sleep. I survived on two-three hours of sleep a night during the week. I tried to catch up on the weekends, often sleeping until 3 in the afternoon, and this cut into family time.

I barely survived the semester with C’s and D’s. My family felt neglected. I was completely burnt out. And even worse, in my mind I was a complete failure. I was ashamed. People would ask how school was going, and I would tell them I was taking a break.

The truth was that I thought about quitting. I had given up on my dreams of investigative journalism.

The prospect of going back to a retail store was unbearable. I wanted to hide from the world, so I slept an entire month away.

My saving grace came in the form of a commercial. I was getting dressed and I heard a man say, “Getting your Ph.D. is going to take some sacrifices.” Then a woman, “There were nights when I only got two hours of sleep.” The basic message: finish school.

It hit home. In those 60 seconds, I realized I’m not the only person going through this.

After some long, hard thinking, I recognized that the pressure to finish school in three years with a 4.0 GPA existed only because I created it for myself.

True failure would have been allowing myself to quit. But that kind of failure is not an option.

In facing this fear, I have learned to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I will get there.

And yes, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for spiders along the way.

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