Fear is a terrible feeling. It not only causes discomfort but stops you from living your best life.
There are a lot of issues I never confronted in my past. I have more past fears and future fears than any present fears.
In my experience, the worst kind of fear is the fear that is so overwhelming, it paralyzes you. It feels almost as though you are frozen in time, but everything around is still moving - like you are unable to interact with everything going on in the present moment. That is the worst kind of fear.
Going into graduate school, I had no idea how different it would be from undergraduate studies. I only knew what I researched. The problem caused was that I had not experienced being in graduate school yet and the research was all hypothetical. It almost set me up for failure.
One of my biggest fears is to fail at anything.
Being successful in academia is the most important to me among all other things. Failure is disappointing and often causes me to re-evaluate what I am doing with my life. Re-evaluating, though necessary at times, does sometimes take me to a dark place where I question everything, including my reason for being.
I like to think I am a cheerful person with a positive attitude towards most things. But a smile can still hide a lot of things, including how someone truly feels.
I had no expectations going into graduate school, so they couldn't have been destroyed. I was surprised by how foreign it felt. It is a different environment. The grading scale is very different and there are few assignments all semester to determine your grade. For my program so far, all my classes have two papers and a presentation that accounts for the entire grade.
After a month of no graded work, I got my first graded assignment back. It was not bad, a B-. I hold myself to a high standard and am the harshest critic on myself. I know this could be unhealthy, but I have always seen not being successful at things as important to me as not fulfilling my life purpose. I would be embellishing if I said I felt shattered or devastated, especially because I wasn't. I just knew I need to do better because I am better than that grade.
I also know that one grade does not define my success.
A former professor of mine once mentioned a belief among reputable institutions with graduate programs that failure in graduate school is not the same as it is in undergraduate studies, especially because you cannot get an E or an I for an incomplete. Failure is thought to be a C. Graduate school is set up to weed out people who will not be successful in the field for which the program of study is designed.
If I am being honest, I am afraid to move forward with future assignments. I do not want to place so much effort and time into assignments only to be told it was not good enough.
But if I do not try, I will never know the outcome. The outcome could be better than I anticipated. I have people who believe in me and are giving me the push I need to move forward.
My advice to anyone who reads this is to go be unafraid and just do things you are scared to do, with no care for the outcome. You can deal with the consequences later if it comes to that. Never knowing could be so much worse than having tried and failed. That says a lot, coming with someone plagued with a fear of failure.
As the saying goes, do as I say, not as I do.