My name is Hannah. I am an independent creative thinker. My number one strength is WOO: Winning Others Over. I thrive on other people’s energy and enjoy taking exhilarating risks, like performing on stage. If all of this is true, why does fear reoccur as a struggle in my life? Simply because of myself: I fear failure. Ouch. The word ‘failure’ is a trigger-word for me; when I think of failing my defenses go up. Failure should be a natural part of learning, however, in my mind it’s a label for someone who needs to “just stop”.
From self-reflection and talking with wise friends I’ve come to realize I’m an approval addict. When I work for someone in authority that I admire, I sometimes doubt my abilities out of fear of disappointing him or her. I hold back from presenting my best efforts while facing demeaning thoughts, “He’ll hate that. What a terrible idea. That sucked. You’re getting nowhere. Someone will complain. It won’t work…” In meetings or brainstorming on my own, I’m caught up thinking of what my boss might say. A few weeks into the semester, I was beginning a graphic design project. I was stuck. No ideas. Then I had a breakthrough, as soon as I stopped projecting my professor’s opinions onto my work I was free to let out my bad ideas, which led me to the one that worked. I failed first, before finding the solution.
Through this I’ve learned that fear stifles expressions of Imago Dei. As humans we embody the image of God, and as a Christian I have the power of Christ. Yet, when I hold back from producing my best work out of fear, I am not living in the freedom of Christ that allows me to be who He has created me to be. Christ gives freedom to make mistakes. Failure is a healthy practice; failure is like the first fight in a relationship that brings clarity and intimacy. Along with fear of failing, comparing one’s performance to others’ feeds fear. Growing up, I labeled my sister as the cook. She owned her own cooking business and dreamed of starting a restaurant. For years, I compared myself to her cooking abilities. To this day I’m hesitant to cook out of fear of messing up the recipe because I’m not ‘the cook’.
Fear cripples the freedom that Christ bought. This is why Paul comforts Christians in 2 Timothy with a reminder: God did not give His people a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline. Fear presents itself in countless forms, as for me fear of failing. I am challenged to take risks where I might fail, but fail confidently as I learn and move forward in the freedom of Christ.