- Dr. Mena Birett
Fear of Failure
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” – C.S. Lewis
Feeling stupid…students use that word all of the time. I cringe every time I hear someone utter the word.
Stupid. I hadn’t considered how the power of that word multiplies when it takes the form of self-speak. I hadn’t realized how much it scared me to think that that word might follow students throughout their lives.
But: Lack of awareness is not the same as ignorance. Ignorance is a choice, a willful turning away from knowledge. That choice is the opposite of education, and anyone who pursues a college degree should take words like “stupid” out of their vocabulary.
We’re not stupid. We’re not ignorant. The biggest lessons with the most powerful punch are smack dab in the middle of the uncomfortable moments—always the clearest indicator that we’re present in a perfect storm of learning. The truly brave then know there’s an adventure to have if we look for even more information about our perception gap.
Feeling stupid is a gut reaction of fear that the person you are learning from is judging you and thinking less of you. Maybe they are. I suspect that the grading system used by institutional education is part of what creates that fear. But we can be gentler and kinder to ourselves. Try to be grateful for those learning moments and to let the fear of judgment go.
Stupid can be such a divisive word. It’s harmful because it rejects the fact that you always had, and will continue to have, the capacity to learn.
Don’t worry. You’re a better person than you were a moment before, and it’s mostly because of the most real form of education.
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