It’s taken me a long time to figure this out, but I’ve been riddled with a phobia that’s actually stunted me my whole life – the fear of failure, or as is technically called: Atychiphobia.
Of course when you think about it, failure is either subjective or objective. Some people only have issues with subjective failure – as in it really only matters to themselves whether they fail or succeed, without much care put into what others think of them.
And on the other hand, there are those who have issues with objective failure. Peeps in this category want to be seen as a success in other people’s eyes because they feel better about themselves if they think other people think they’re awesome.
Most of us fall into this category actually – heck that’s why facebook exists. Everyone just wants everyone else to think they’re awesome – whether it’s through the [perfect] photos they post of themselves or the comments they write [hoping a ton of people will respond or like them] – at the end of the day, we feel worthy based on the reactions of others.
And then there are those of us who have issues with both subjective and objective failure. That’s me I’m afraid.
Don Packett talked at this year’s NetProphet about iGeneration – the concept that there are so many of us out there that only post stuff on our social platforms like facebook or twitter that make us look awesome, rather than posting stuff that benefits others.
I thought about myself during that talk – I was, and in many ways, still am part of that iGeneration. But why? Well, it’s simple – it’s because I spend so much time worrying about what others think of me, and am completely and utterly terrified of not producing amazing work.
I am lucky enough to have a myriad of creative talents, and yet there are people out there with far less enjoying far greater success than me.
After pondering this for a while, and watching this rather interesting TED talk from the author of the hugely popular “Eat. Pray. Love.” novel, I realised I have some serious issues about failure.
In 2007 I wrote a song that went to #1 on KFm & Highveld’s Homebrew chart in it’s first week and stayed at that position for another three. It also made it to #22 on the TAKE40 SA charts which was pretty huge for me – somehow knowing that my song was doing better than 50% of the international songs was an amazing feeling. But that was the problem.
Sure, you might be thinking, “that’s not really a big deal dude, it’s only South African radio stations”, but after that, it felt like anything I produced had to be better than that, or else it was going to be a failure.
It plagued me so much so that it affected all areas of my creative work. It’s the reason I haven’t released a new album, the reason I stopped acting, the reason I’ve just put so many things off. Little did I know that it’s something that’s actually been plaguing me my whole life.
I am ridiculously hard on myself, and I am ridiculously concerned about being a success in other people’s eyes. And it’s time it stops.
That’s why I’ve decided to start this twitter hastag thing called #CarSessions - not for you or anyone else, but for me. Of course you’re welcome to watch the videos I post under that tag, but I really couldn’t give a shit whether you think they’re crap, or whether you think they’re awesome – they’re simply there to help me get rid of this fear of failure.
What are the #CarSessions? They’re videos of me in the backseat of my car, with my nylon string guitar, singing cover songs, recorded on my iPhone.
There are no fancy lights, no fancy cameras, no fancy microphones, no fancy instruments – it’s just me, singing at my most exposed. I figure if I, and others, see me as raw as it gets, then somehow I have nothing to fear. Because yes, my voice isn’t warmed up, I don’t know the songs well, I sometimes hit the wrong notes, and I look stupid singing with my eyes closed – but you know what, that’s me, and I’m having fun.
And maybe this whole #CarSessions thing will turn in #GarageSessions where I get fancy equipment and put on a rad performance – but for now, the great thing is that I’ve started from zero again, and I’ve only got up to go.
So if you feel like watching, please do. And if you think it sucks, well, I quote William Henley in saying, “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”.