I learned that I can choose to see failure as the end of the world and as a proof of just how inadequate I am. Or, I can see failing...
I have a ‘Thing’; I don’t know if psychologists have a term for it, but it’s real. It’s called “The Fear of ‘Failing Because Of Fear’.”
Like all introverts, I’m extremely shy and morbidly afraid of public shame and ridicule. As a result, I’ll never volunteer to do anything outside of my comfort zone. However, I have another fear; the one I call my ‘Thing’. Ever heard stories of how someone missed a big, destiny-defining break because they were too afraid to act? Well, I spend my waking hours scared of being that person. Because of this ‘Thing’, I’d jump at any challenge that comes my way lest I miss my ‘Destiny Moment’. This ‘Thing’ has made me do some weird things in this life; like auditioning for a controversial reality show, hustling as a bus conductor for a day in Lagos, or composing an ‘apology’ love poem to a female lecturer for a student who missed a test.
Or how about that time that I rapped my way to fame on MNET’s “Deal or No Deal”? Here’s Greg, who cannot sing before a church of 20 members, dropping lines before a live TV audience like MI. So what if I got insanely feverish as I walked out of the studio? So what if I developed stress ulcers because of that feat? It doesn’t matter, I pulled it off, and as I lay on my sickbed days later, I felt justified for pushing myself to my most extreme. Life gave me a shot and I pelted the shooting range. Now I walk around feeling like Life owes me one, sort of.
It’s this ‘Thing’ that made me accept to start TWFT, a weekday devotional for a WhatsApp group of Christians spread across six countries and three continents. It was insane of me to think I could keep churning out article after article each day and not burn out or eventually reduce the quality to ‘Sunday School outline’ level. The best thing to do was to politely decline, but the ‘Thing’ showed me years of regret ahead for missing such a rare opportunity, and I acquiesced.
The ‘Thing’ is not necessarily good for everyone. It can lead some people into neurotic, self-destructive behaviour. Nevertheless, for someone like me who’s natural timidity can dangerously lead to a sedentary life – who’s always at the risk of collapsing into myself because of fear – the ‘Thing’ acts like a sort of anti-gravity force – pushing, compelling, lifting.
When my good friend Edward asked me to write about how I broke up with fear, I gladly sent him a long essay. But when the series started in earnest and I began to see the quality of write-ups being presented by others, my old nemesis rose up. What if my submission’s not good enough? What if I end up making a fool of myself? I reached out to Eddy and hinted that my write-up didn’t meet his standard. He AGREED, (my whole world crumbles before my eyes), and asked me to write ANOTHER one – totally missing the point of my complaint.
I decided I’ll just keep stalling and postponing it until he’d give up. But Eddy’s not some boy I met down the street. Of the thousands of fine people he’s mingled with in his active life he chose ME to write something. And I’m looking for a way to avoid it? Just imagine how God would react to me during the next all-night prayers for “breakthrough”. Don’t bother about imagining it, I’ve already done that for myself, and it wasn’t a pretty scenario; hence the reason why you’re reading this new write-up right now!
My name is Greg Elkan. I am the dreamer who broke up with fear… Now I am living my dream. Let’s live our dreams together!”
About Greg: Writer, speaker and media personality, Greg Elkan Ekpiroro holds a B.Tech in Mathematics/Computer Science and is an Associate of the Institute of Strategic Management.