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  • Writer's pictureMaggie McHugh

Fear of Failure

I've deleted the start of this post seven times now. I decided I am not going to delete it again. Why? I struggle with failure. I mean, in my heart of hearts, I want to say, "Who doesn't struggle with failure?" However, I was brought up with the ideology that "failure is not an option."

So, how does that connect with my journey as an educator. Honestly, it has nearly everything to do with it. I have feared failure in so many avenues that I have stopped myself from fully trying new things with students, from fully investing in my dreams, from starting new initiatives, only to backtrack with excuses.

So, what changed?


Explicit permission to fail.

Not even permission... encouragement. I was encouraged to fail by my principal. I was encouraged to try new things. I was told if I didn't fail I wasn't pushing my educational boundaries far enough, wide enough, deep enough.

How often, as educators, do we allow ourselves to fail? How often do we share our failures with other educators? How often do we walk into a class the next day and tell our students, "Well, I tried something new yesterday. Upon reflection, it was sort of a flop. I'm going to take a different approach today. Let's see how this goes."

I know. You probably can't imagine saying the word "flop". I mean, it reminds me of a floppy-eared bunny. So, ya know, put it in your own words.

My big failure fear right now centers on writing about my lived experiences as an educator. I read the blog posts of so many amazing people. I see the "likes" and "follows" of these big names in education, dreaming that one day I will be that person. Then, my fear kicks in. And I stop. I stop before I have the chance to fail.

I want to be super positive right now and declare my intentions to go big or go home... Screw failure! (If you know me, you know writing the word "screw" is like totally a swear word in my vocabulary!)

Again, I've deleted this next sentence several times. I wrote, "I'm hoping..." and realized hope is not a strong enough verb. Hope does not take action. So, I can't write, "I'm hoping today is the day I..."

No. There is no longer hope.

In the wise words of my husband's favorite character, "Do or do not. There is no try." ~Yoda

So, I'm writing this post to give myself permission to fail in the adventures that await me. I'm giving myself permission to be okay with no likes. No one reading this post. No one commenting on it. In our world of social media, "likes" and "reposts" and "comments" seem to be the epitome of popularity, ya know, like where the most popular sports jocky guy puts his arm around the geeky girl and declares himself totally head over heels in love with her, showing this never-before-seen emotional side that makes the girl swoon even more.

Yeah. That's what a "like" feels like.

No wonder my middle school students have such self-esteem issues.

Maybe we need to give them more permission to fail, too.

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