Fear of Failure

Every so often, I have a ‘wobble’, usually caused by nothing more than a word, a phrase, a reaction by others, or just one little thing that sets me off down a road of thinking too much negatively.

I seem to be in one at the moment, and I’m not too sure if I can pinpoint the cause of it directly, or whether or not it’s just a combination of factors.

In this case, I seem to have felt it just before leaving Timor-Leste; a sense of trepidation about Indonesia. I’ve no idea why; it’s a large and very varied county, seemingly with friendly people, but for some reason I just haven’t been feeling it at all. I know I’ve only been here two nights so far but this is the first time on my whole trip that I’ve contemplated actually coming home, at least for a bit, before going somewhere completely different where I feel more comfortable. There’s something about the way i’m feeling that’s making me feel very negative about my future time here; i’m sure it’ll be fine if I give it a chance but when you start something with a negative feeling/impression, it’s not a good foundation on which to build.

And there’s no real reason why I should have a negative view. From what I’ve seen so far, the place is calming, beautiful, relatively cheap, varied, and interesting. It should be the perfect place to explore and spend some time- indeed 30 days isn’t enough, given how big some of the islands are, and that you could easily spend 3-4 days on some of the smaller ones.

I guess it’s just the little things that have built up in my mind; that my plans completely changed before even getting here; that I couldn’t draw money out the ATM at the airport, that when I managed to get money there was a really low limit per transaction, that I’m sure I got majorly overcharged for one of my bus journeys; that I made it to a lovely village with a superb and chilled hostel but couldn’t spend a third night cos it was full but nowhere else for the next couple nights seem both any good and available; that some of the places I plan to go to are really into the unknown and finding any information about them, let alone booking owt, is proving tricky, that it’s too hot and humid – uncomfortably so – and that’s affecting my mood. The little things. All of which I probably knew before I got here, but that doesn’t change how I feel now I am here.

Maybe even I’ve overexerted myself; maybe I should have planned my trip so that I have two months’ solid travelling (which I’m coming up to now), then a couple weeks’ rest, then two more months somewhere else, then another couple of weeks’ rest, etc. Rather than the random things i’m doing right now (where I’m due to be in Indonesia for a month, then a couple days in Malaysia, then a week and a half in Sri Lanka …).
(But then what the feck did I do on the Sunshine Coast if it wasn’t rest? Am I cheating?)

But then everyone else can do it, they can go travelling for months at one time without problems.
But then they tend to either be much more self-confident than I am, or be travelling with someone else, and that can help share the stress. I’ll talk about the latter point one day soon, but the former – yes, I’m very un-confident. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before; I can barely introduce myself to a crowd of people, it takes me a great deal of self-belief to even go into a shop in some foreign cultures, and sometimes the thought of going somewhere new and arranging everything on the spot fills me with dread.

And yet I’ve done this all before; I’ve done exactly that above, many times. So why I should still feel like this so often is a mystery to me.

So I must go on.
For me to do anything else would make me feel a failure, both in my eyes and in the eyes of everyone I know. It’s like – I said I was going to do a lot of travelling to interesting places and see all this wonderful stuff, but then if I decide that I don’t because I’m too much of a wuss then I’ll have let myself and the world down, and that I won’t be able to be trusted when I say I’m going places again. Unreliable. Easily prone to backing out.
I can’t easily win, I guess, I’m sure it’ll be fine when I get onwards in a couple of days, but right now I’m just not feeling the vibe.

And then there’s the feeling that : hey I’ve got this opportunity to go to places; if I don’t take it then what the heck am I doing – wasting my life and someone else could have had that chance and they could have done it better.

It’s only in the last couple of days that I’ve felt this ‘extreme’ – I mean sure I’ve had wobbles before but each one I knew was only about a specific set of circumstances either unrelated to the location itself, or something specific about the town (or even hostel) I was in. This feels more generic towards Indonesia itself, and I can’t put my finger on it. I was apprehensive about Chile but even though my initial impressions were unfavourable, I never wanted to leave it even when I arrived, I knew I’d be able to get used to it without a problem. This is different, and, interestingly, I didn’t feel the same in Timor-Leste either – the reason I left Dili was not because I didn’t like it, but more because I’d have been stuck there for week otherwise and that was just a little too long bearing in mind I was supposed to be spending more time travelling onwards.

Oh I don’t know, maybe I worry and think too much. But on the one side I have an overactive negative imagination, and on the other I have this fear of failure, or being deemed to be a failure. Bah.

I talk more about this on an episode of my podcast on Social Anxiety and my Fear of Failure, as well as another example where this happened, in Ethiopia.

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8 thoughts on “Fear of Failure

  1. If I count as ‘someone you know’, just know that I don’t and wouldn’t think you were a failure. I think you are an inspiration. 🙂

    1. coo, I feel honoured (if a tad confused!). Thank you 🙂

      1. Haha, it parsed perfectly well in my head, but now I read it back… 😀

  2. Oh Ian! What are you like!? You’re a free spirit of which 99% of us are jealous. You just please yourself and do what feels right! The world’s a huge place, go where you please, do what you please and enjoy it! If anyone you know thinks you’re a failure (which I doubt) then that’s their problem not yours!

    Oh and we’re all travelling with you…digitally!

    1. You realise that “We’re all travelling with you…digitally” is both very gratifying and very scary, because you can all see my worries and it becomes even more obvious if let you down!

  3. I don’t realise that Hun, stay safe and enjoy your travels x

    1. LOL don’t worry about it – I’m just thinking about this way too much and second-guessing everything! Hope I didn’t come over too condescending and ungrateful?

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